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I  vt    -^ 







VOL   I 


1 901 

BUTLER  &  Tanner, 

The  Selwood  printing  works, 

frome,  and  london. 














'H  O  /  »  -^  -* 


MANY  books  are  now  written  about  distant  lands 
by  those  who  have  only  a  very  slight  acquaint- 
ance with  them,  and  such  usually  form  very  pleasant 
reading.  Burma  has  received  a  fair  share  of  this  sort 
of  attention  from  casual  visitors,  but  the  present  work  is 
not  one  of  these  books  written  in  lighter  vein.  It  is 
intended  to  be  a  comprehensive  treatise  on  one  of  the 
richest  provinces  of  our  Indian  Empire,  and  it  embodies 
knowledge  and  experience  acquired  there  in  a  service 
extending  over  nearly  twenty-five  years. 

During  that  time  great  political,  commercial,  and  social 
changes  have  taken  place  throughout  Burma  and  among 
the  Burmese,  and  the  main  objects  of  this  book  are 
to  describe  these,  and  to  show  how  they  have  already 
affected  and  are  bound  still  more  to  affect  the  land  and 
the  people.  It  tries  to  describe  the  latter  as  they  were, 
and  as  they  now  are.  The  historical  sketch  of  Burma 
has  been  confined  solely  to  what  is  necessary  in  order  to 
understand  the  position  of  affairs  at  different  times. 

The  author  feels  that  some  explanation  is  needed  for 
the  appearance  of  these  volumes.  The  work  was  under- 
taken for  the  simple  reason  that  no  comprehensive  book 
has  been  published  about  Burma  since  it  came  entirely: 
under  British  rule  in  1886,  although  the  record  of  the 
material  progress  achieved  seems  well  worthy  of  being 
submitted  to  the  public  in  some  such  convenient  form. 
Matters  affecting  the  life  and  habits  of  the  Burmese  have 
also  been  treated  in  a  way  which  it  is  hoped  may  be 
of  use  to  those  going  to  spend  the  best  years  of  their 
lives  in  Burma,  and  this  is  the  reason  why  so  many 
Burmese  terms  have  been  introduced  and  explained. 
An  endeavour  has  at  the  same  time  been  made  to  in- 
dicate various  commercial  openings  for  investment  of 
capital,  because  the  development  of  a  rich  Indian  pro- 
vince ought  surely  to  be  worthy  of  consideration  by 
British  capitalists. 


The  plan  of  the  book  was  sketched  early  in  1896,  and 
several  chapters  of  it  were  then  written,  but  press  of 
official  work  prevented  its  completion  till  the  leisure  of 
furlough  from  1898-1900.  In  the  meantime  the  official 
Gazetteer  of  Upper  Burma  has  been  published,  which 
also  deals  with  many  of  the  matters  here  treated  of. 
The  two  works,  however,  cannot  in  any  way  clash.  The 
one  is  an  official  record,  the  other  is  an  independent 
publication  meant  for  such  of  the  general  public  as  may 
feel  an  interest  in  Burma  or  in  its  administration  by  the 
British.  If  there  be  any  similarity  between  portions  of 
the  two  books  with  regard  to  matters  specially  affecting 
Upper  Burma,  this  can  only  be  due  to  the  fact  that 
the  actual  historical  data  have  been  obtained  from  the 
same  sources,  because  neither  a'othor  has  yet  seen  the 
work  of  the  other. 

The  scheme  which  has  been  followed  was  to  treat  each 
subject  comprehensively  in  a  chapter  by  itself.  One 
drawback  to  this  method  is  the  necessity  for  occasional 
repetitions  and  references  to  previous  pages,  but  the 
advantages  seemed  to  outweigh  this  disadvantage. 

The  French  position  in  Indo-China  has  of  course  been 
dealt  with  at  considerable  length.  But  even  since  the 
chapter  dealing  with  "Britain  and  France  in  Further  India 
and  Western  China"  has  been  passed  for  press,  matters 
affecting  French  railway  enterprise  in  south-western 
China  have  again  advanced.  The  latest  account  of  the 
existing  position  will  be  found  in  an  article  on  "  The 
French  Railway  into  Yun-nan  "  in  the  Times  of  July  22, 
1 90 1,  to  which  the  attention  of  those  specially  interested 
in  this  subject  may  be  drawn. 

A  book  of  this  description  can  hardly  appeal  to  any 
large  circle  of  readers,  and  it  is  not  at  all  likely  to  com- 
mand anything  but  a  very  limited  sale.  It  is  therefore 
in  no  small  degree  owing  to  assistance  kindly  guaranteed 
by  the  leading  steamship  companies  and  the  merchants 
of  Rangoon  that  its  publication  has  been  assured,  and 
the  author  gladly  takes  this  opportunity  of  thanking  them 
for  the  encouragement  thus  given. 

London,  August  15,  1901. 




DOWN  TO  THE   SECOND    BURMESE  WAR   (1S52)         .         i 


TO    1880 26 


1885  :    THE  CAUSES  OF  TPIE  THIRD  BURMESE  WAR       54 

THE   THIRD   BURMESE   WAR   (1885).  ....       82 

THE  PACIFICATION  OF  UPPER  BURMA  (1886-1890)    .        .     105 






LAW  AND  JUSTICE  UNDER   BURMESE   RULE   .        .        .176 


BURMA  UNDER  BRITISH  ADMINISTRATION      .        .        .214 




MINERAL  RESOURCES .        •    389 

TRADE  AND   COMMERCE .        .413 


MESE  LAW  (1882) 454 


LIST     OF 



DISTRICT) Frontispiece 


THE  ROYAL  CITY  OF  MANDALAY  .         .         .        To  face  p.  198 





SKETCH     MAP     OF     BURMA,     TONQUIN     AND 

SOUTHERN    CHINA To  face  p.  16 

SKETCH     MAP     OF     RAILWAYS      OPEN     AND 

UNDER     CONSTRUCTION      AND     SURVEY  To  face  p.  24 

chapter  I 


THE  early  history  of  Burma  is  wrapped  in  the  mists 
of  traditional  legends,  which  afterwards  became 
crystallised  in  the  Yazawin  or  Royal  Chronicles.  Formed 
by  the  fusion  and  union  of  Mongol  tribes,  the  Burmese 
probably  drove  the  earlier  settlers  out  of  the  valleys  into 
the  mountain  fastnesses,  where  they  form  the  wild  hill- 
tribes  of  the  present  day. 

Successive  waves  of  immigration  seem  to  have  burst 
in  from  the  north-west,  due  to  incursions  from  Upper 
India,  each  fresh  immigration  forcing  southwards  towards 
the  sea  those  who  had  established  themselves  in  the 
fertile  valley  of  the  Irrawaddy  river. 

In  course  of  time  various  independent  kingdoms 
sprang  up,  so  that  when  the  truly  historical  epoch  was 
reached  separate  nations,  with  dynasties  of  their  own, 
held  sway  in  different  parts  of  the  country.  Thus  there 
arose  the  petty  kingdoms  of  Arakan,  Pegu,  and  Tavoy 
along  the  coastline,  of  Prome  and  Toungoo  in  Central 
Burma,  and  of  Burma  proper  in  the  upper  portion  of  the 
Irrawaddy  valley. 

Internecine  warfare  was  habitual  among  these  various 
petty  kingdoms,  though  Arakan  and  Tavoy,  thanks  to 
their  geographical  position,  suffered  much  less  on  this 
account  than  the  central  principalities  occupying  different 
portions  of  the  Irrawaddy  valley. 

Arakan  formed  a  separate  kingdom  over  which  various 
dynasties  are  supposed  to  have  ruled  in  an  unbroken  line 
of  succession  from  2666  B.C.  down  to  1784  a.d.,  when 
Thamada,  who  ruled  at  the  city  of  Myauku  (or  Myo- 
haung),  was  conquered  and  taken  prisoner  by  Bodaw 
Paya,  king  of    Ava.      Tavoy,   colonised   from   Arakan, 


was  soon  absorbed  into  the  Peguan  kingdom,  though  it 
long  formed  a  bone  of  contention  between  the  rulers  of 
Pegu  and  Siam,  now  being  held  by  one  and  again  by  the 
other.  The  central  kingdoms  of  Prome  and  Toungoo 
appear  to  have  been,  respectively,  merely  a  very  early 
dynasty  and  a  comparatively  recent  off-shoot  from  the 
kingdom  of  Burma,  into  which  they  were  subsequently 
again  merged.  The  Prome  dynasty  was  established  at 
Thare  Kettara  by  Maha  Thambawd,  in  483  B.C.,  and 
terminated  with  the  death  of  Thu  Pinya  in  95  a.d., 
shortly  after  which  a  new  dynasty  was  founded  at  Pagdn, 
in  108  A.D.,  by  Thamokdarit.  Later  on,  it  assumed 
independence  from  time  to  time,  before  it  was  finally 
absorbed  into  the  kingdom  of  Burma.  The  Toungoo 
off-shoot,  however,  played  a  much  more  important  part 
in  the  general  history  of  the  country. 

While  Duttiya  Min  Kaung  ruled  over  Burma  he  con- 
ferred independence  on  his  tributary  Min  Kyi  Nyo  of 
Toungoo  about  1480  a.d.  The  latter  was  succeeded  in 
1530  by  his  son,  Min  Taya  Shweti,  better  known  as 
Tabin  Shweti.  Ten  years  later,  by  the  time  he  was 
only  twenty-six  years  of  age,  Tabin  Shweti  had  made 
himself  master  of  Pegu,  and  had  been  appointed  king, 
according  to  the  ancient  ceremonies,  in  the  capital.  To 
celebrate  this  event  he  placed  new  Ti  on  the  great  na- 
tional pagodas  at  Pegu  and  Dagon  (now  Rangoon). 
Ousting  the  Shan  usurpers  from  Ava  he  next  had  him- 
self solemnly  consecrated  there,  in  1544,  as  "king  of 
kings"  or  emperor  of  all  Burma,  and  he  appointed 
tributary  kings  for  the  government  of  Ava,  Prome, 
Toungoo,  and  Martaban.  In  1546  he  invaded  Arakan, 
but  was  obliged  to  discontinue  operations  owing  to  dis- 
turbances in  his  eastern  territories.  He  was  now  master 
of  all  Burma,  except  Arakan,  and  would  probably  also 
have  conquered  and  added  to  his  dominions  the  whole  of 
the  Shan  States  and  Northern  Siam,  as  happened  during 
the  second  half  of  the  sixteenth  century,  had  he  not 
given  way  to  debauchery  rendering  him  incapable  of 
ruling.  In  1550,  when  only  thirty-six  years  of  age,  this 
able,  but  cruel  and  unscrupulous  monarch  was  murdered 
by  a  scion  of  the  late  royal  race  of  Pegu. 

2  _y 


(  In  considering  the  history  of  Burma,  even  broadly 
and  briefly  without  going  into  details,  the  two  main 
factors  most  deserving  of  consideration  are  the  Burmese 
kingdom  in  the  upper  portion  of  the  Irrawaddy,  and  the 

Mon  kingdom  occupying  the  lower  portions  of  the  Irra- 
waddy and  Sittang  valleys,  as  well  as  the  whole  of  the 
southern  sea-coast.  To  prevent  confusion,  the  rulers  of 
these  kingdoms  will  invariably  be  respectively  referred 
to  throughout  this  chapter  as  the  kings  of  Burma  and  of 
Pegu,  while  their  subjects  will  be  called  by  their  correct 
distinctive  names,  Burmese  and  Mon. 

(  The  Burmese  kingdom  seems  to  have  been  originally 
established  by  a  dynasty  which  came  from  India)  That 
portion  of  the  Royal  Chronicle  which  may  be  classed  as 
purely  mythical  gives  a  list  of  thirty-three  kings  who 
reigned  at  Tagaung  (Hastinapura),  and  of  seventeen 
more  who  had  their  capital  at  Mauroya  and  Tagaung. 
The  last  king,  Thado  Damma  Raja,  was  dethroned  at 
the  time  of  an  invasion  from  the  east. 

The  legendary  portion  of  the  Burmese  Chronicles 
may  be  regarded  as  commencing  about  483  b.c,  when 
Maha  Thambawa  established  a  new  dynasty  at  Prome 
(Thare  Kettara).  Here  twenty-seven  kings  reigned  till 
the  close  of  the  first  century  a.d.,  when,  after  the  death 
of  King  Thu  Pinyd,  his  nephew,  Thamokdarit,  removed 
the  capital  to  Pagdn.  Forty  kings  reigned  at  Pagan 
before  what  may  be  regarded  as  the  actually  historic 
epoch  began  with  the  accession  of  King  Anawratazaw  to 
the  throne,  about  loio  a.d.  Even  this  period  possesses, 
however,  so  little  of  interest  for  the  general  reader  that 
the  course  of  events  in  Burma  may  be  lightly  skimmed, 
only  the  essential  facts  being  noted,  till  the  last  dynasty 
WAS  founded  in  1755  by  Alaung  Payd. 
f  The  Pagan  dynasty  came  to  an  end  in  1279  a.d.,  when 
King  Kyawswa  was  deposed  and  afterwards  killed  by 
three  Shan  brothers.  Previous  to  this,  there  had  been  a 
Mongol  invasion,  caused  by  the  Emperor  of  China  enforc- 
ing his  claim  to  receive  tribute  and  homage  from  Burma. 
The  army  consisted  more  probably  of  Shans  and  Shan- 
Chinese  than  of  Chinese  proper  ;  for  men  of  Shan  race 
had  long  been  gradually  overrunning  the  country  and 



acquiring  positions  of  great  influence  through  royal 
favour.  This  was  not  the  first  time  the  Shans  had 
spread  over  the  country.  Centuries  before  they  had 
swarmed  into  Burma,  and  had  even  pushed  northwards 
so  far  as  to  found  the  Shan  or  Ahom  kmgdom  of  As- 


In  1298  A.D.  a  Shan  dynasty  was  founded  in  Burma, 
which  reigned  for  about  seventy  years  with  Mymzamg, 
Panyd.  and  Sagaing  as  the  capitals.  In  1364,  however,  a 
new  Burmese  dynasty  was  founded  by  1  hado  Mmbya, 
who  dethroned  the  contemporaneous  rulers  at  Panya  and 
Sagaing,  and  established  his  capital  at  Ava.  Said  to  be  a 
descendant  of  the  ancient  kings  of  Tagaung,  Thado  Mm- 
bya was  of  Shan  extraction  on  his  mother's  side;  and 
all  the  seventeen  kings  of  his  dynasty,  which  held  the 
reins  of  government  till  1554,  were  mainly  of  Shan 
descent.  On  the  last  king  of  this  line  being  conquered 
and  deposed  by  Bayin  Naung,  of  the  Toungoo  dynasty, 
King  of  Pegu,  the  kingdom  of  Burma  was  held  as  a 
tributary  of  the  kingdom  of  Pegu. 

The  ancient  Mon  Chronicles  give  a  list  of  fifty-nine 
kings  of  Pegu,  who  reigned  at  Suvarna  Bhiami  or 
Thaton.  The  first  of  these,  Thiha  Raja,  came  from 
India,  and  died  in  543  B.C.,  the  year  in  which  Gaudama 
attained  Buddhahood  ;  and  the  last  of  the  long  line, 
Manuha,  was  conquered  and  carried  off  as  a  prisoner  to 
Pagdn  by  Anawratazaw,  in  1057  a.d. 

An  off-shoot  from  this  direct  line  had,  however,  long 
before  this  been  sent  to  establish  itself  to  the  west  of 
Thaton  ;  and  this  resulted  in  the  foundation  of  the  city  of 
Pegu(Hanthawadi)in  573  a.d.  Between  then  and  781  a.d. 
seventeen  kings  reigned  here ;  but  after  that  there  is  a 
blank  of  about  500  years  in  the  Pegu  chronicles,  during 
which  the  names  of  the  rulers  are  not  given.  This  may 
perhaps  in  part  be  explained  by  the  religious  strife 
existing  between  the  Brahminists  and  the  Buddhists, 
which  extended  over  about  300  years ;  for  each  monkish 
party  would  naturally  tamper  with  the  chronicles  when- 
ever they  gained  the  ascendancy  for  the  time  being. 

After  the  conquest  of  the  kingdom  of  Pegu,  including 
both  Thaton  and   Hanthawadi,  Pegu  became  subject  to 

4      V 


Burma  for  about  230  years,  until  a  Shan  chief  called 
VVareyu  established  a  dynasty  in  1287  a.d.,  with  the 
seat  of  government  at  Muttama  (Martaban).  About 
sixty  years  later,  however,  the  capital  was  transferred  to 
the  ancient  city  of  Hanthawadi,  which  remained  the 
stronghold  of  the  dynasty  till  Takdrutbi  was  conquered 
and  deposed  by  Tabin  Shweti,  King  of  Toungoo,  in 
1540  A.D. 

The  dynasty  founded  by  Tabin  Shweti,  a  king  of 
Burmese  race  to  whom  reference  has  already  been  made, 
was  but  of  short  duration.  It  ended  in  1599,  when 
Nanda  Bayin,  the  eldest  son  of  Bayin  Naung,  was  de- 
throned and  put  to  death  by  his  tributary,  the  King  of 

From  1599,  when  the  Nyaung  Yan  Min,  a  younger 
son  of  Bayin  Naung,  ascended  the  throne  of  the  "  king 
of  kings,"  the  Toungoo  dynasty  reigned  at  Ava,  and  at 
Pegu,  holding  sway  throughout  the  whole  of  the  present 
province,  with  the  exception  of  Arakan.  This  was  the 
first  time  the  kingdoms  of  Burma  and  Pegu  had  ever  been 
united  under  one  sovereign.  At  the  same  time,  the 
eastern  frontiers  of  the  Burmese  empire  had  been  pushed 
forward  so  as  to  include  large  tracts  in  Western  China, 
all  the  Shan  and  Siamese-Shan  States,  and  the  greater 
portion  of  Siam. 

In  1740,  however,  the  Mon,  who  had  never  relin- 
quished their  aspirations  for  national  independence, 
again  revolted,  and  elected  as  King  of  Pegu  a  monk  of 
Shan  origin,  who  took  the  title  of  Budda  Ketti.  Six 
years  later  he  abandoned  the  throne  in  favour  of  another 
Shan,  who  assumed  the  title  of  Binya  Dala,  a  name 
famous  in  Mon  history.  Successful  in  arms  against  the 
King  of  Burma,  he  conquered  Ava  in  1751  and  burned 
it  to  the  ground,  taking  prisoner  Maha  Damma  Raja 
Dibuti,  who  was  sent  to  Pegu  and  there  executed  two 
years  later, 

Binya  Dala's  sway  over  the  re-united  kingdoms  of 
Pegu  and  Burma,  this  time  under  a  ruler  of  Shan 
descent,  was  but  of  short  duration.  In  1757  he  was 
conquered  and  taken  prisoner  by  Alaung  Payd,  the 
founder  of  the  last  ruling  dynasty  in  Burma,  which  was 



overthrown  for  ever  in  1885.  Binya  Dala  ultimately 
met  the  same  fate  as  he  had  meted  out  to  Maha 
Damma  Raja,  for  he  was  publicly  executed  by  Sinpyuym, 
son  of  Alaung  Payd,  in  1775.  when  the  Burmese  king 
held  ^reat  religious  festival  at  the  Shwe  Dagon  pagoda 

in  Rangoon.  n    1  u     4.1, 

Alaung  Paya.  or  Alompra  as  he  was  called  by  the 
Encrlish.  was  perhaps  the  greatest  of  all  the  rulers  of 
AvI  Born  in  1714  at  Moksobo,  "the  hunter's  cookmg 
place,"  he  was  first  of  all  the  subordinate  of  a  village 
headman  and  then  became  headman  of  the  town. 
Through  his  craft  and  his  personal  influence,  aided  no 
doubt  among  so  superstitious  a  people  by  his  auspicious 
name,  Maung  Aung  Zeya,  or  "  conquering  victory,"  he 
raised  a  petty  local  revolt  against  the  Mon  power,  then 
paramount  in  Burma.  This  proving  successful,  large 
numbers  flocked  to  his  rebel  band,  and  he  was  at  last 
able  to  score  important  victories  against  the  forces  of  the 
King  of  Pegu. 

In  1754  Ava  fell  before  him,  and  he  carried  the  war 
southwards  to  the  delta,  occupying  Bassein,  at  that  time 
the  chief  seaport  of  the  country.  It  was  then,  in  1755, 
that  he  proclaimed  himself  King  of  Burma  and  Pegu, 
assuming  the  pretentious  title  of  Alaung  Payd.  "the 
incarnation  of  a  Buddha,"  and  conferring  royal  titles 
upon  his  two  eldest  sons.  He  established  his  capital  at 
Moksobo,  now  called  Shwebo. 

He  died  in  1760,  at  the  early  age  of  forty-six  years. 
During  the  short  space  of  seven  years  he  not  only  freed 
his  country  from  the  yoke  of  the  Mon,  whom  he 
degraded  to  be  the  Talaing  or  "down-trodden"  race, 
and  raised  himself  to  the  throne,  but  he  also  extended 
the  boundaries  of  his  kingdom  from  Manipur  in  the 
north-west  to  Siam  in  the  south  and  east.  And  while 
thus  engaged  in  successful  warlike  operations,  he  like- 
wise did  much  for  the  improvement  of  internal  ad- 
ministration throughout  his  dominions.  He  prohibited 
gambling  and  the  sale  of  intoxicating  drink,  and  he 
purified  the  judicial  system  by  enforcing  the  trial  of  cases 
in  public  and  the  registration  of  every  judicial  order 
that  was  passed.      It  was  a  misfortune  for  Burma  that 


ALAUNG    PAYA'S    DYNASTY,    1755-1885 

the  sway  of  so  competent  a  ruler  only  lasted  between 
five  and  six  years, — for  he  died  in  i  760,  while  laying 
siege  to  Ayodya,  then  the  capital  of  Siam. 

In  the  following  genealogical  tree  of  this  dynasty  it 
will  be  seen  how  the  succession  varied  by  the  national 
custom  of  nominating  the  heir-apparent  and  successor,  in 
place  of  following  any  distinct  rule  like  that  of  primo- 
geniture : — 

(1)  Alaung  Paya  (17  55-1 760). 

(2)  Naungdawgyi  (3)  Sinpyuyin  (^)  Bodaw  Paya 
(1760-1763)              (1763-1776)  (1781-1819) 

I  I  1 

{^)  Maung  Maung  (■*)  Singu    Min  £m  She  Min  or 

(reigned  only  7  (1776-1781)  "  Heir  Apparent" 

days  in  1781)  (died   during   his 

father's  reign) 

(')  Bagyidaw  Paya 

(^)  King  Tharrawaddi 
(Shwebo  Min) 
(1838— 1846) 

(^)  Pagan    Min 

(1")  Mindon  Min 

(11)  King      Thibaw 

only  a  younger  son 


From  shortly  after  the  date  of  the  foundation  of 
Alaung  Payd's  dynasty  the  history  of  Burma  becomes 
gradually  more  closely  interwoven  than  was  previously 
the  case  with  that  of  British  India  until,  after  partial 
dismemberments  in  1826  and  1852,  the  kingdom  of 
Ava  was  finally  and  completely  absorbed  into  the  British 
Indian  Empire  on  ist  January,  1886. 

Down  to  the  close  of  Alaung  Payas  reign  the 
influences  of  foreign  countries  on  Burma,  so  far  as 
territorial  possessions  were  concerned,  were  confined 
to  those  emanating  from  the  other  Mongol  kingdoms, 
China  and  Siam,  lying  further  to  the  east,  and  nothing 


had  yet  been  felt  of  the  irresistible  pressure  which  was 
finally  to  be  exerted  from  the  west.  A  Chinese  or 
Shan- Chinese  invasion  from  Yunnan  had  taken  place  m 
1659,  but  the  invaders  were  repulsed  in  their  attack  on 
Ava,  the  capital.  •  Siam  (Ay6dyd)  had  been  conquered 
and  made  a  tributary  province  of  Bayin  Naung  in  1564, 
and  Zimme  was  dealt  with  in  the  same  manner  in  1578, 
while  the  northern  Shan  States  were  also  brought  to  the 
condition  of  subordinate  tributaries.  Siam  soon  after 
freed  itself  from  the  Burmese  yoke,  and  even  invaded 
Pegu.  Alaung  Paya  s  war  of  1759  against  Siam  was 
caused  by  offended  vanity,  the  King  of  Siam  having 
refused  to  give  him  one  of  his  daughters  in  marriage  as 
a  minor  queen. 

Alaung  Paya  had  six  sons  by  his  chief  wife,  and  he 
expressed  the  wish  that  the  succession  to  the  throne 
should  devolve  upon  each  of  these  in  turn.  Looked 
upon  as  a  sort  of  dynastic  order,  this  unfortunate  and 
rather  unreasonable  wish  later  on  proved  the  cause  of 
much  bloodshed. 

The  first  king  to  succeed  Alaung  Payd  was  his  eldest 
son,  who  took  the  title  of  Naungdawgyi.  Transferring 
his  capital  to  Sagaing,  then  the  chief  town  in  his 
dominions,  his  short  reign  of  only  three  years  was 
chiefly  occupied  in  putting  down  an  insurrection  in  Ava, 
and  quelling  minor  disturbances  in  various  parts  of  the 
large  empire  to  which  he  had  fallen  heir. 

On  being  succeeded  in  1763  by  his  brother,  who 
assumed  the  grandiloquent  regal  name  of  Sinpyuyin 
or  "  Lord  of  the  White  Elephant,"  the  capital  was 
immediately  removed  from  Sagaing  to  M6ks6bo. 
Dissatisfied  with  this  change  as  soon  as  it  had  been 
effected,  the  King  consulted  his  astrologers,  who  advised 
him  to  select  Ava  once  more  as  the  capital.  Accord- 
ingly he  re-transferred  the  seat  of  government  to  Ava. 

Naturally  ambitious,  Sinpyuyin  invaded  and  annexed 
Manipur  in  1764,  reduced  Zimme  and  the  Shan  States  to 
obedience,  and  subsequently  invaded  Siam  in  1765. 
Ayodyd,  the  capital,  was  taken,  and  was  destroyed  by 
fire  early  in  1767,  when  the  victorious  king  found 
himself  compelled  to  return  to  Ava  to  defend  his  own 



proper  dominions  against  a  threatened  Chinese  invasion. 
This  incursion  arose  out  of  purely  commercial  causes. 

In  the  spring  of  1765  a  Chinese  trader  had  been 
interfered  with  when  approaching  Bhamo,  and  was 
taken  into  custody  and  sent  to  Ava.  Being  there 
released,  he  found  some  of  his  goods  were  missing  when 
he  got  to  Bhamo.  Similar  friction  having  frequently 
been  caused  by  misconduct  of  Burmese  officials  at 
various  points  along  the  eastern  frontier,  a  Shan- Chinese 
incursion  was  made  into  the  southern  Shan  States. 

This  was  soon  easily  quelled,  but  Sinpyuyin  became 
uneasy  about  his  relations  with  China  when  he  heard, 
early  in  the  following  year,  that  a  large  army  was  being 
massed  on  the  frontier  near  Momein.  In  1 767  the  Chinese 
troops  invaded  Burma  and  occupied  Bhamo,  while  a 
southern  column  marched  by  the  trade  route  through 
the  northern  Shan  State  of  Theinni  to  threaten  the 
capital.  The  Burmese,  however,  succeeded  in  routing 
and  driving  back  again  the  northern  column,  and  in 
forcing  the  southern  also  to  retreat.  The  net  result  of 
the  contest  proved  advantageous  for  Burma,  as  it 
definitely  gained  certain  Shan  States  in  the  extreme 
north  which  really  belonged  to  China,  though  they  had 
from  time  to  time  been  under  Burmese  suzerainty. 

Furious  at  one  he  considered  an  upstart  and  a  petty 
barbarian  daring  to  resist  an  army  of  the  son  of  heaven, 
the  Emperor  of  China  again  sent  troops  across  the  Shan 
hills  towards  the  close  of  1767.  Defeating  one  of  the 
Burmese  columns  in  the  Thibaw  State,  it  pushed  on 
towards  the  edge  of  the  plateau  overlooking  the  valley  of 
the  Irrawaddy,  but  was  then  defeated  and  forced  to  retreat 
from  Burmese  territory.  The  Chinese  entrenchments  or 
camping  grounds  ( Tarok  Sakdn)  then  formed  are  still  to 
be  found  dotted  all  along  the  line  of  march  from  Maymyo, 
through  Thibaw  and  Lashio,  eastwards.  But  from  the 
size  of  even  the  largest  of  these  entrenchments,  it  seems 
evident  that  only  small  bodies  of  troops  could  have  been 
employed,  and  not  the  large  army  of  50,000  men  whose 
inglorious  defeat  the  Burmese  Chronicle  boastfully  nar- 

Rumours  of  troops  being  massed  in  still  larger  numbers 


beyond  the  frontiers  soon  again  troubled  the  King,  and  the 
earthquakes  of  1 769.  which  rent  asunder  pagodas  and 
threw  down  the  golden  Ti,  or  "  umbrella  "  pinnacle  of  the 
great  Shwe  Dagon  pagoda  in  Rangoon,  were  viewed 
as  omens  of  direst  import,  presaging  national  disaster. 
Religious  frenzy  seized  hold  of  the  people  and  of  their 
King.  Vast  treasures  were  lavished  in  repairing  and 
beautifying  the  great  pagodas  throughout  the  land,  and 
thousands  of  gold  and  silver  images  were  enshrined  in 
order  to  gain  sufficient  Kutho,  or  "  religious  merit,"  to 
avert  disaster. 

Hardly  had  these  great  works  of  religious  merit  been 
accomplished  before  the  storm  broke  from  the  north-east, 
in  the  early  part  of  the  autumn  of  1769.  Decimated  by 
malarious  fever,  the  Chinese  were  easily  overpowered  by 
the  Burmese  ;  and  before  the  close  of  the  year  peace  was 
established  by  a  convention  signed  at  Bhamo.  This  was 
the  last  time  war  actually  occurred  between  Burma  and 
China.  Shortly  after  this  the  Siamese  revolted,  and  in 
1 77 1  a  Burmese  force  was  sent  against  them.  It  con- 
sisted mainly  of  Talaings,  who  mutinied,  massacred  their 
Burmese  fellow-soldiers,  and,  retracing  their  steps,  in- 
vested Rangoon,  the  new  metropolis  of  the  sea-board. 
This  uprising  was  soon  suppressed  locally,  but  it  was  not 
till  the  beginning  of  17 74  that  the  Burmese  authority  was 
completely  re-established  throughout  Pegu.  To  celebrate 
this  happy  issue  and  the  victories  of  Burmese  arms  in 
Manipur  and  Kachar,  as  well  as  to  consolidate  his  power 
in  Pegu,  Sinpyuyin  placed  a  new  golden  TV  on  the 
summit  of  the  Shwe  Dagon  pagoda  in  1774  ;  and  then, 
full  of  what  he  probably  considered  good  deeds,  he  passed 
away  in  1776,  being  succeeded  by  his  son,  the  Singu 

When  Singu  Min  ascended  the  throne,  Burma  was 
again  embroiled  in  a  Siamese  war.  After  the  complete 
destruction  of  Ayodya  by  fire,  and  the  carrying  off  of  the 
Siamese  royal  family  as  prisoners  by  Sinpyuyin's  army 
in  1767,  a  man  named  Paya  Tak,  of  Chinese  descent, 
obtained  a  following,  and  inflicted  heavy  losses  on  the 
retreating  Burmese.  Assuming  the  title  of  king,  he 
founded  a  new  capital  at  Bangkok.      It  was  not  till   1774 



that  Sinpyuyin  found  himself  in  a  position  to  conduct 
fresh  operations  against  Siam,  and  these  had  not  been 
concluded  when  he  died.  Meanwhile,  it  was  not  going 
well  in  Siam  with  the  Burmese  arms.  So  the  new  king 
determined  to  put  an  end  to  the  conflict,  and  ordered  the 
withdrawal  of  his  troops,  both  from  Ay6dyd  and  from 
the  Zimme  and  Upper  Menam  territories,  where  they 
could  no  longer  stay  with  safety. 

Internal  disturbances  connected  with  the  succession  now 
began  as  a  direct  consequence  of  Alaung  Payd's  desire 
that  each  of  the  six  sons  of  his  chief  queen  should  in 
their  turn  succeed  to  the  throne,  as  it  became  vacant. 
The  Singu  Min  was  the  son  of  Sinpyuyin.  If  Alaung 
Paya's  death-bed  wish  were  to  be  regarded  as  the  law  of 
succession,  then  the  eldest  surviving  son  was  the  rightful 
heir  to  the  throne  ;  while,  if  otherwise,  then  a  prince 
named  Maung  Maung,  son  of  King  Naungdawgyi,  was 
by  some  held  to  have  stronger  claims  to  the  throne  than 
the  Singu  Min.  These  ideas  were  probably  only  formu- 
lated about  a  couple  of  years  after  the  latter  had  obtained 
regal  power,  and  even  then  only  because  he  turned  out 
a  cruel,  dissolute,  and  brutal  monster. 

Suspicious  of  plots  that  began  to  be  whispered  in  1779, 
he  had  his  two  most  favoured  rivals  killed.  These  were 
a  younger  brother  of  his  own  and  his  uncle,  the  fourth 
son  of  Alaung  Payd ;  and  a  short  time  after  that,  in  a  fit 
of  jealousy,  he  drowned  his  favourite  queen.  Another 
uncle,  Badun  Min,  the  fifth  son  of  Alaung  Paya,  an  astute 
prince,  who  had  so  conducted  himself  as  to  be  considered 
almost  outside  the  pale  of  rivalry  for  the  throne,  escaped 
death,  but  was  sent  to  Sagaing,  and  there  kept  under 
close  supervision. 

In  1 78 1,  however,  a  band  of  conspirators  seized  the 
palace  while  the  King  was  absent  from  Ava  on  a  royal 
progress,  and  proclaimed  as  king  Maung  Maung,  who 
was  then  a  lad  of  eighteen.  Returning  to  the  palace,  the 
Singu  Min  was  allowed  to  enter  the  inner  precincts,  where 
he  was  slain  by  the  father  of  his  murdered  queen.  At 
once  seizing  the  opportunity,  the  Badiin  Min  cited  Alaung 
Paya  s  dying  wish,  that  his  sons  should  succeed  him  ac- 
cording to  their  seniority,  as  the  dynastic  law  of  succes- 



sion,  and  Maung  Maung,  who  only  reigned  a  week,  was 
at  once  put  to  death,  the  Badiin  Min  being  now  pro- 
claimed the  rightful  king. 

The  new  king  from  time  to  time  adopted  various 
titles,  one  of  them  being  "lord  of  many  white  elephants," 
but  he  is  best  known  to  the  English  by  the  name  of 
Bodaw  Paya,  although  the  Burmese  themselves  usually 
refer  to  him  as  Min  Tayagyi,  "  the  great  lawgiver." 

To  seat  himself  more  securely  on  the  throne,  he  put  to 
death  many  of  those  who  had  secured  the  power  for 
Maung  Maung.  About  a  year  later  an  attempt  was 
made  to  seize  the  palace  for  a  scion  of  the  old  Burmese 
royal  family  ;  but,  this  proving  unsuccessful,  the  assailants 
were  put  to  death.  And  to  prevent  conspiracies  in  future, 
a  holocaust  was  made  of  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  village 
of  Paungha,  where  the  plot  was  hatched.  Men,  even  in- 
cluding monks,  and  women  to  tne  number  of  over  a  hun- 
dred are  said  to  have  been  burned  alive  on  huge  piles  of 
wood,  while  their  houses  were  razed  to  the  ground,  their 
fruit  trees  cut  down,  and  their  fields  allowed  to  revert  to 
jungle.  A  revolt  about  the  same  time  occurred  among 
the  Talaing  near  Rangoon,  which  was  also  crushed  with 
characteristic  cruelty,  more  than  500  of  the  malcontents 
being  put  to  the  sword. 

Having  thus  crushed  organised  opposition  to  his  king- 
ship, Bodaw  Paya  at  once  proceeded  to  wash  away  the 
blood-stains  with  which  his  life-account  had  become 
blotted  and  beflecked.  He  built  a  vast  pagoda  near 
Sagaing,  and,  following  the  advice  of  his  astrologers, 
founded  a  new  capital  at  Amdrapura,  about  six  miles  to 
the  north-east  of  Ava,  which  was  occupied  in  1  yS2).  That 
same  year  he  caused  a  sort  of  Domesday  Book  to  be 
compiled,  giving  the  financial  resources  of  each  district 
throughout  his  kingdom,  but  the  first  use  he  made  of  this 
was  to  demand  an  extraordinary  contribution  from  each 
town  and  village  for  the  repairing  and  restoration  of 
pagodas,  and  for  other  royal  works  of  religious  merit. 

On  the  foundation  of  the  new  capital,  Bodaw  Paya  at 
the  same  time  determined  the  succession  to  the  throne  in 
favour  of  his  eldest  son,  whom  he  appointed  Ezn  Slid  Min, 
or  "  heir  apparent."     On  Pandali  Thakin,  the  sixth  son 



of  Alaung  Payd,  quoting  the  dynastic  wish  which  the 
King  had  enforced  in  dethroning  Maung  Maung,  Bodaw 
Paya  now  pooh-poohed  that  as  a  silly  idea.  The  younger 
brother  then  becoming  troublesome,  he  was  disposed  of 
in  what  was  considered  the  really  orthodox  and  proper 
way  of  doing  a  royal  prince  to  death  :  he  was  tied  in  a 
red  velvet  sack  and  thrown  into  the  Irrawaddy  river. 
/  Impelled  partly  by  lust  of  territory,  and  partly  by 
religious  desire  to  possess  the  great  sacred  image  of 
Arakan,  Bodaw  Payd  waged  war  against  that  kingdom 
in  1 783,  and  annexed  it  in  1 784.  Elated  with  his  easy 
success  in  this  enterprise,  he  conceived  the  ambitious 
design  of  conquering  the  whole  of  Further  India. 

ijln  pursuit  of  this  object,  Bodaw  Paya  began  by  in- 
va!ding  Siam  in  1785.  Placing  himself  at  the  head  of  an 
army,  he  demanded  tribute  asserted  to  be  due,  and  inti- 
mated his  intention  to  avenge  the  defeats  inflicted  by 
Payd  Tak  on  the  Burmese  arms.  Junk  Ceylon  was  taken, 
but  was  soon  after  regained  by  the  Siamese ;  and  Bodaw 
Payd  precipitately  retreated  to  Rangoon. 

In  the  following  year  a  fresh  invasion  of  Siam  was  em- 
barked on,  but  the  Burmese  troops  were  cut  to  pieces 
hear  the  frontiers  of  Tavoy  and  Mergui.  Bodaw  Payd 
fled  back  to  Martaban,  and  thence  proceeded  to  his  own 
capital,  there  to  engage  his  attention  with  further  works 
of  religious  merit,  so  that  future  undertakings  might  be 
more  auspicious. 

During  1791  the  Siamese  established  themselves  at 
Tavoy,  but  the  town  was  in  1792  regained  by  the  Bur- 
mese, and  peace  between  the  two  countries  was  declared 
in  1793.  But  many  of  the  Shan  chiefs  had  meanwhile 
been  incited  to  throw  off  their  allegiance  to  Burma,  and 
to  become  tributaries  of  Siam  ;  and  these  tributaries  were 
retained  by  the  Siamese. 

Foiled  in  his  aspirations  as  to  the  conquest  of  Siam, 
Bodaw  Payd  resigned  all  thoughts  of  invading  and  over- 
running China.  But  he  still  devoted  attention  to  the 
extension  of  his  frontiers  towards  the  north  and  west. 
Dissensions,  intrigues,  and  difficulties  about  the  succession 
gave  him  the  opportunities  he  desired  both  in  Manipur 
and  in  Assam.     After  the  death  of  Alaung  Paya,  Manipur, 



with  British  assistance  from  Bengal,  had  been  enabled  to 
free  itself  again  from  the  Burmese  yoke,  but  in  1813 
Bodaw  Payd  was  appealed  to  for  the  purpose  of  settling 
a  disputed  succession.  Citing  the  occupant  of  the  throne 
before  him,  in  order  to  settle  the  dispute,  the  Raja 
refused  to  appear  ;  so  Burmese  troops  overran  Manipur 
in  1 8 1 3,  the  prince  who  had  sought  the  intervention  of 
Bodaw  Payd  was  placed  on  the  throne,  and  the  Kubo 
valley  was  annexed  to  Burma. 

Similarly,  in  Assam,  a  dispute  about  the  succession  to 
the  throne  led  to  one  candidate  beseeching  the  interven- 
tion of  the  King  of  Burma,  and  troops  were  sent  there 
in  181 6.  But  before  anything  definite  had  resulted 
from  this  ready  interference  in  the  internal  affairs  of 
Assam,  Bodaw  Payd  died  in  18 19.  Cruel  and  ferocious, 
he  drew  fearful  bills  of  mortality  on  the  Burmese  nation. 
Though  he  was  almost  constantly  engaged  in  warfare,  yet 
the  tale  of  men  killed  in  cold  blood  by  his  inhuman  orders 
was  even  greater  than  the  total  of  those  that  fell  in  the 
field.  Conscious  of  his  blood-guiltiness,  he  tried  to  wipe 
out  the  debit  balance  standing  to  his  life-account,  and 
to  earn  a  surplus  of  religious  merit  by  lavish  expenditure 
of  money,  labour,  and  life — all  wrung  from  his  people 
without  consideration,  payment,  or  return  of  any  sort^ — on 
pagodas,  irrigation  tanks,  and  sacred  shrines.  Bodaw 
Payd's  impulse  towards  creating  works  of  religious  merit 
gradually  became  a  passion,  and  finally  developed  into  a 
mania.  As  such,  it  was  probably  a  premonitory  symp- 
tom of  the  more  pronounced  insanity  with  which  his 
grandsons,  who  succeeded  him  on  the  throne,  were  subse- 
quently afflicted.  But  the  crowning  glory  of  his  reign 
was,  in  his  own  estimation,  the  possession  of  a  perfect 
white  male  elephant,  caught  in  the  Pegu  forests,  which 
was  received  at  Court  with  more  than  regal  honours,  and 
which  was  greatly  venerated  during  the  fifty  years  it 
lived  at  the  capital. 

Bodaw  Payd  was  succeeded  by  his  grandson,  Sagaing 
Min,  who  had  been  appointed  heir-apparent  on  his 
father's  death  in  1809,  and  who  now  took  the  title  of 

Although  his  accession  to  the  throne  was  unopposed, 



he  soon  made  himself  a  terror  by  executing  two  of  his 
uncles,  the  Princes  of  Prome  and  Toungoo,  together  with 
a  large  number  of  public  officers  whom  he  suspected  of 
conspiring  against  him.  Early  in  Bagyidaw's  reign  an 
evil  omen  made  itself  seen,  for  a  vulture  one  day  alighted 
on  the  spire  of  the  palace.  Soon  after  this,  too,  the  spire 
itself,  along  with  other  portions  of  the  palace  buildings, 
the  court  of  justice,  and  a  large  part  of  the  city  were  de- 
stroyed by  fire.  So  it  was  resolved  to  re-establish  Ava 
as  the  capital.  Preparations  were  at  once  begun,  though 
it  was  not  till  1823  that  the  move  was  ultimately  made. 

In    matters  of  foreign  policy,    Bagyidaw  followed  in 
the  footsteps  of  his  predecessor.     Marjit,  Raja  of  Mani- 
pur,  who  had  been  placed  on  the  throne  by  Bodaw  Payd 
in  18 13,  was  summoned  to  do  homage  to  his  new  suzerain 
along  with  the  other  tributary  princes  in  18 19,  but  merely 
made   excuses   in    place  of  putting    in  his  appearance. 
This,    coupled    with    offences     against    the     Burmese 
sumptuary  laws  as  to  the  number  of  roofs  on  the  spire 
above  his  palace,^  and  the  amount  of  gilding  in  it,  was 
r.  made   an    excuse  for   despatching    troops   against  him. 
/  These  occupied  the  capital,  and  the  Burmese  garrison 
was  retained  at  Manipur  during  1820. 
I    In  Assam,  too,  Chandra  Kanta,  who  was  seated  on  the 
throne  by  the  troops  sent  by  Bodaw  Payd,  soon  showed 
a  desire  to  be  free  from   Burmese  control  and  interfer- 
ence.    Additional   troops   were  therefore  sent  under   a 
commander  named  Maung  Yit,   who,  through  his   suc- 
cesses in  Manipur  and  Assam,  gained  the  title  of  *'  Maha 
Bandiila,"  after  a  mighty  warrior  who  did  great  deeds 
according  to  the  Burmese  legends.     This  general  after- 
wards commanded  the  troops  fighting  against  the  British. 
The  result  of  this  Burmese  invasion  was  that  Chandra 
'f/Kanta  was  defeated  and  fled  into  British  territory,  and 
^  Assam  was  declared  a  Burmese  province  in   1821. 

The  extension  of  the  frontiers  to  the  north  and  west, 

^  The  roofs  of  the  spire  above  the  king's  chief  throne,  and  of  those 
above  the  four  main  gates  of  the  royal  capital,  were  nine  in  number ; 
and  monasteries  may  also  have  the  same  number.  But  even  the  most 
powerful  tributary  princes  were  only  allowed  seven  roofs  on  the  palace 
spire  surmounting  their  throne. 



beyond  the  mountain  ranges  forming  the  western  water- 
shed of  the  Irrawaddy  valley,  proved  a  source  of  friction 
with  British  India.  The  situations  which  in  this  manner 
arose  from  time  to  time  were  the  preponderating  causes 
of  both  the  first  and  the  second  Burmese  wars.  And,  as 
neither  of  these  very  severe  lessons  could  teach  the  Bur- 
mese Court  that  the  British  Empire  in  India  was  of  a 
more  solid  and  resisting  nature  than  any  of  the  countries 
mentioned  in  the  Royal  Chronicles,  similar  causes  in 
course  of  time  led  directly  to  the  total  extinction  of  the 
Burmese  monarchy  and  of  national  independence.  > 

The  earliest  contact  of  Burma  with  western  nations  was 
extremely  limited,  and  was  purely  of  a  commercial 
character.  Brief  reference  to  the  details  of  this  is  there- 
fore more  appropriately  made  in  the  beginning  of  the 
chapter  on  "Trade  and  Commerce"  (chap.  XIV.). 

/  The  annexation  of  Arakan  by  Bodaw  Paya  in  1 784 
had  already  brought  Burma  into  collision  with  the  British 
in  Chittagong.  The  British  territory  was  utilised  as  a 
sanctuary  by  some  thousands  of  Arakanese  refugees,  who 
made  raids  from  time  to  time  and  harassed  the  Burmese 
garrison.  In  place  of  representing  that,  as  would  only 
have  been  just,  the  British  authorities  should  take 
measures  to  put  a  stop  to  these  incursions,  the  Burmese 
demanded  that  the  raiders  should  be  given  up  to  them. 
This  being  refused,  they  followed  the  outlaws  into  British 
territory.  The  friction  thus  caused  led  to  an  Envoy, 
Captain  Symes,of  H.M,  76th  Regiment, being  sent  to  Ran- 
goon in  1795.  He  was  treated  with  great  indignity,  but 
received  what  seemed  to  be  a  treaty.  In  accordance  with 
this,  Captain  Hiram  Cox  was  sent  in  the  following  year 
as  Resident  at  Amarapura.  Received  only  once  in 
audience  by  the  King,  he  was  afterwards  treated  with 
great  insult,  and  finally  withdrew  during  1 798.  Difficul- 
ties soon  again  arose  on  the  Arakan  frontier,  and  the 
Envoy  of  1795,  now  Lieut.-Col.  Symes,  was  once  more 
sent  to  negotiate  a  treaty.  This  time  he  was  treated 
even  more  insultingly  than  before,  being  made  to  halt 
and  reside  for  forty  days  on  an  "accursed"  island  where 
criminals  were  executed,  and  cremations  and  burials  were 
carried  out.     After  waiting  for  nearly  eighteen  months 


FIRST    BURMESE    WAR,    1824-26 

he  returned  to  India,  without  having  attained  the  desired 
objects  of  his  mission.  Another  mission,  sent  in  1809, 
under  Captain  Canning,  also  returned  in  18 10  without 
having  effected  its  object.S^ 

Troubles  again  occurring  on  the  Chittagong  frontier, 
Captain  Canning  was  once  more  sent  on  a  mission  to 
Rangoon  in  181 1,  but  had  to  return  in  181 2  with  as  un- 
satisfactory a  result  as  before.  In  1813  a  Burmese  Envoy 
was  sent  to  Calcutta  to  demand  the  extradition  of  the 
Arakanese  fugitives  in  Chittagong,  which  was  refused. 

During  the  next  few  years  matters  gradually  drifted 
from  bad  to  worse,  and  the  Burmese  began  to  intrigue 
with  the  Mahrattas  and  the  Court  of  Lahore,  intending 
to  enter  the  confederacy  against  the  British  then  being 
arranged  by  the  Peishwa — a  plan  which  was  frustrated 
by  the  victory  at  Kirki  and  the  routing  of  the  Pindari 
/On  the  death  of  Bodaw  Paya,  in  18 19,  affairs  had  fallen 
ihto  a  chronic  state  of  trouble  all  along  the  frontiers  of 
Arakan,  Manipur,  and  Assam  ;  and  they  were  soon 
forced  by  the  Burmese  into  a  more  acute  stage.  On  the 
borders  of  Chittagong  aggressions  were  almost  uninter- 
rupted. From  Manipur  and  from  Assam  a  Burmese 
force  marched  in  two  columns  into  Kachar,  which  had 
been  taken  under  British  protection  to  check  any  advance 
of  the  Burmese  towards  Sylhet.  The  column  from 
Assam  was  driven  back  from  the  Surma  river ;  while 
that  from  Manipur  also  retired,  but  not  until  after  it  had 
stubbornly  and  successfully  beaten  off  a  British  attack  on 
a  strong  stockade  on  the  bank  of  the  Bardk  river. 

While  these  skirmishes  were  going  on  further  north,  a 
casus  belli  had  evolved  itself  on  the  Naf  river,  the  bound- 
ary between  Arakan  and  Chittagong.  On  23rd  Septem- 
ber, 1823,  an  armed  party  of  Burmese  attacked  a  British 
guard  on  Shapuri,  an  island  close  to  the  Chittagong  side, 
killing  and  wounding  six  of  the  guard.  During  Novem- 
ber the  island  was  re-occupied  by  a  detachment  of  British 
sepoys ;  but  Bagyidaw  was  bent  on  war.  Confident  of 
victory,  he  sent  Maha  Bandiila,  in  January,  1824,  with 
6,000  men,  to  assume  command  of  the  troops  in 
Arakan,  and  to  march  on  Chittagong.     \ 

17  /  c 


On  5th  March,  1824,  war  was  formally  declared  by  the 
British  against  Burma.  Recognising  that  any  attempt 
to  reach  the  Burmese  capital  through  one  or  other  of  the 
frontier  districts  would  be  attended  with  enormous  diffi- 
culties, the  plan  of  attack  on  Ava  was  made  by  sea  and 
up  the  Irrawaddy  river.  Troops  were  massed  at  Cal- 
cutta and  Madras  to  the  number  of  about  11,500  men, 
and  the  chief  command  was  entrusted  to  General  Sir 
Archibald  Campbell,  K.C.B.  But  other  troops  operated 
also  in  Assam  under  Brigadier- General  McMorine,  and 
in  Kachar  under  Brigadier-General  Shuldham. 

On  nth  May  Rangoon  was  occupied  without  opposi- 
tion, and  shordy  after  that  two  strong  stockades,  thrown 
up  at  Kemmendine,  now  a  north-western  suburb,  were 
captured.  Some  petty  successes  had  been  gained  by  the 
Burmese  at  the  Naf,  but  these  could  not  be  followed  up, 
while  the  Burmese  troops  were  also  withdrawn  from 
Assam  and  Kachar. 

The  advance  up  the  Irrawaddy  was  delayed  through 
want  of  adequate  transport,  and  as  the  rainy  season  set 
in  the  British  troops  suffered  severely  from  sickness. 
Later  on,  finding  it  still  impossible  to  operate  in  the  Irra- 
waddy valley,  expeditions  were  sent  to  Tavoy,  Mergui, 
Martaban,  and  Pegu,  all  of  which  places  were  occupied 
by  November. 

Maha  Bandula  had  meanwhile  been  recalled  from 
Arakan,  and  placed  in  chief  command  of  the  troops,  said 
to  number  60,000,  opposing  the  advance  of  the  Brit- 
ish on  the  capital.  Occupying  as  his  base  Daniibyu 
a  town  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Irrawaddy,  about  sixty 
miles  north-west  of  Rangoon,  he  crossed  the  river  and 
marched  on  Rangoon.  But,  before  the  close  of  the  year, 
the  attacks  of  the  Burmese  had  been  repulsed  with  so 
much  slaughter  that  they  found  themselves  forced  to 
retreat,  the  greater  part  of  the  force  breaking  up  and 
dispersing  itself. 

'  Owing  to  the  unforeseen  difficulties  about  transport  in 
the  Irrawaddy  valley,  another  British  army,  of  about 
1 1,000  men,  was  assembled  at  Chittagong  under  General 
Morrison,  and  sent,  partly  by  sea  and  partly  by  land,  into 
Arakan.     Little  opposition  was  encountered  in  occupying 

FIRST    BURMESE    WAR,    1824-26 

the  districts,  but  the  climate  proved  deadly  during  the 
rains.  As  the  Arakan  Yoma,  forming  the  western  water- 
shed of  the  Irrawaddy,  proved  impracticable  for  the  trans- 
port of  heavy  guns,  the  idea  of  attacking  Ava  from 
Arakan  had  to  be  abandoned.  By  the  end  of  the  dry 
season,  in  the  spring  of  1825,  the  Burmese  had  been 
driven  from  all  the  places  they  had  previously  occupied 
in  Assam,  Kachar,  Manipur,  and  Arakan,  while  the 
British  held  the  chief  towns  along  the  sea-coast,  and  were 
preparing  to  advance  in  strength  up  the  Irrawaddy  to 
Ava.  Sickness  had,  however,  sapped  the  strength  of 
the  troops  to  such  an  extent  that  only  1,300  Europeans 
and  2,500  native  soldiers  were  fit  for  duty  at  the  time  of 
Bandula  laying  siege  to  Rangoon  in  December. 

Reinforcements  having  been  received,  Sir  Archibald 
Campbell  marched  north.  His  force  was  divided  into 
two  columns,  on^  of  which  proceeded  by  land  and  the 
other  by  the  river.N  The  Burmese  were  found  occupying 
a  strongly  fortified  position  at  Danubyu.  Siege  being 
laid,  an  assault  was  fixed  for  2nd  April,  when  it  was 
found  that  the  fort  had  been  evacuated  during  the  pre- 
vious night.  Maha  Bandula  had  been  killed  on  ist 
April  by  a  portion  of  a  shell,  and  with  his  death  all  re- 
sistance collapsed.  Resuming  the  onward  march,  the 
British  occupied  Prome  without  opposition,  and  went 
into  cantonment  there  for  the  rainy  season. 

When  news  of  Bandiilas  death  and  the  advance  on 
Prome  reached  Ava,  the  King  and  his  courtiers  were 
filled  with  dismay ;  yet  the  astrologers  continued  to  pre- 
dict success.  During  the  latter  part  of  the  rains,  the 
Burmese  proposed  and  obtained  an  armistice,  but  the 
terms  of  peace  offered  were  not  accepted.  As  soon  as 
the  rains  came  to  an  end  the  advance  on  Ava  was  re- 
sumed. Some  opposition  was  encountered  about  ten 
miles  to  the  north  of  Prome,  and  again  at  Maliin,  about 
fifty  miles  further  north,  which  was  taken  after  renewed 
negotiations  for  the  conclusion  of  hostilities  had  been 
again  futile.  \ 

On  3rd  January,  1826,  the  terms  of  a  treaty  for  peace 
being  signed,  fifteen  days  were  allowed  for  its  ratifica- 
tion ;  but,  as  this  did  not  arrive,  the  advance  was  con- 



tinned.  Pagdn  was  taken  on  8th  February  after  some 
little  fighting,  and  on  the  i6th  the  British  encamped  at 
Yandabii,  only  four  marches  from  Ava.  Intimation  was 
then  forthcoming  that  the  treaty  would  be  duly  ratified, 
and  it  was  signed  without  further  discussion  on  the  24th. j 
Under  its  provisions  Assam,  Arakan,  and  all  Tenas- 
serim  lying  east  of  the  Salween  river  were  ceded  to  the 
British/while  the  Burmese  agreed  to  abstain  from  inter- 
ference of  any  sort  in  Manipur,  Kachar  and  Jyntia.  An 
indemnity  of  a  crore  of  rupees,  or  about  ^1,000,000, 
was  paid  towards  the  British  military  expenditure,  which 
had  exceeded  five  times  that  amount.  Provision  was 
also  made  for  the  arrangement  of  a  commercial  treaty, 
which  was  subsequently  concluded  in  November,  1826, 
though  no  British  Resident  went  to  Ava  till  1830,  when 
Major  Burney  was  sent  there.  Thus  their  first  war  with 
the  British  ended  with  a  vast  loss  of  territory  and  such  a 
crushing  blow  to  their  national  pride  and  prestige  as 
the  Burmese  had  never  before  received. 

Ba-gyi-daw  soon  grew  subject  to  melancholy  fits,  which 
finally  led  to  insanity.  The  palace  then  became  the 
scene  of  continual  intrigues,  until  at  last,  in  February, 
1837,  the  Prince  of  Tharrawaddi,  who  presided  over  the 
State  Council,  somewhat  in  the  manner  of  a  Regent, 
deposed  his  brother  and  seized  the  throne  for  himself, 
assuming  the  name  of  King  Tharrawaddi.  The  de- 
throned monarch  was  not  made  away  with,  but  lived 
under  restraint  till  1845. 

Meanwhile  the  British  Resident  to  the  Burmese  Court 
had  to  put  up  with  many  indignities.  Finding  that  he 
was  thwarted  in  every  way,  and  could  do  no  good  by 
remaining,  Major  Burney  withdrew  in  1837,  for  King 
Tharrawaddi  simply  refused  to  receive  him  or  to  consider 
himself  bound  by  the  treaty  made  by  his  brother,  the 
late  king.  But  the  Governor-General,  Lord  Auckland, 
disapproved  of  this  step,  and  in  1838  sent  Colonel  Ben- 
son to  Amarapura  as  Resident.  Him,  too,  the  King  de- 
clined to  receive;  and  after  enduring  many  indignities 
(Colonel  Benson  also  withdrew  in  1839,  leaving  his  sub- 
ordinate, Captain  Macleod,  in  charge  of  affairs.  Early 
in  1 840  Macleod  was  ordered  to  return,  as  the  Govern- 



ment  of  India  had  now  at  length  become  convinced  that 
diplomatic  relations  could  only  be  opened  and  main- 
tained by  armed  force. 

Removing  his  capital  to  Amdrapura,  King  Tharra- 
waddi  reigned  for  nine  years.  But,  shortly  after  his 
usurpation  of  the  throne,  he  also  exhibited  symptoms  of 
insanity.  Gradually  becoming  worse,  he  finally  became 
subject  to  fits  of  ungovernable  fury,  during  which  he 
committed  acts  of  inhuman  cruelty.  One  of  his  amuse- 
ments at  such  times  was  to  order  any  courtier  near  by 
to  kneel  down  while  he  scored  a  chessboard  on  the  poor 
fellow's  back  with  a  sword.  More  than  once  he  was  put 
under  restraint  by  his  sons,  and  he  died  in  confinement 
in  1846,  being  most  probably  done  to  death  secretly. 

I  On  Tharrawaddi's  demise  the  throne  was  occupied 
by  his  eldest  son,  the  Pagdn  Min,  who  had  already  as- 
sumed charge  of  the  government  when  it  became  neces- 
sary to  place  his  father  under  restraint.  The  new  king 
followed  his  father's  example  in  ignoring  the  provisions 
of  the  treaty  of  1826;  and,  feeling  sure  of  not  being 
interfered  with  from  Amarapura,  the  Governors  of  Pegu 
recommenced  the  course  of  exactions  from  British  traders 
which  had  so  often  called  for  the  remonstrance  of  the 
Resident.  '  After  the  withdrawal  of  the  Governor- 
General's  Agent  in  1 840,  things  of  course  gradually  went 
from  bad  to  worse,  until  at  last  in  1851  matters  came  to 
a  head  through  two  more  than  usually  outrageous  cases 
of  extortion. 

King  Pagan  was  cursed  with  the  heritage  of  his 
father's  vicious  and  cruel  disposition,  but  was  not  en- 
dowed with  any  of  his  better  or  redeeming  qualities. 
Avaricious  to  a  degree,  the  King  contrived  to  enrich 
himself  by  the  deaths  of  well-to-do  subjects,  of  whom 
he  massacred  about  two  thousand  within  a  couple  of 
years,  some  being  secretly  murdered,  and  others  even 
executed  in  public. 

Now  Maung  Ok,  who  was  appointed  Governor  of 
Pegu  in  1846,  followed  his  royal  master's  example — 
"  like  master,  like  man " — as  closely  as  he  dared  in 
Rangoon.  But  at  last  he  went  too  far.  In  July,  1S51, 
he  caused  the  master  of  a  British  barque,  the  Monarchy 


BURMA    UNDER    BRITISH    RULE         . 

to  be  arrested  on  a  false  charge  of  murdering  his  pilot/ 
Liberated  on  security,  fined,  re-arrested,  and  again  fined, 
his  crew  arrested,  ill-used,  and  fined,  and  not  allowed  to 
clear  the  port  till  payment  of  other  money  had  been 
extorted,  the  master,  Mr.  Sheppard,  reported  the  matter 
to  the  British  Commissioner  in  Tenasserim,  and  made  a 
claim  of  ten  thousand  rupees  (^i,ooo)  against  the  Bur- 
mese Government.  A  month  later  Mr.  Lewis,  master 
of  the  barque  Champion,  was  treated  in  a  very  similar 
manner.  Proceeding  to  Calcutta,  he  laid  his  complaint 
before  Government  and  made  a  claim  of  nine  thousand 
two  hundred  rupees  (^920)  against  the  Burmese  au- 

The  amounts  claimed  by  Messrs.  Sheppard  and  Lewis 
being  reduced  to  what  were  considered  reasonable  limits, 
Lord  Dalhousie,  the  Governor  General,  on  17th  Novem- 
ber, 1 85 1,  sent  a  letter  to  the  King  of  Burma  by  H.M.S. 
Fox  (Commodore  Lambert),  accompanied  by  three  other 
ships,  bringing  to  his  notice  the  many  complaints  re- 
ceived concerning  Maung  Ok's  conduct,  desiring  that 
compensation  should  be  given  in  these  two  particular 
cases,  and  also  that  Maung  Ok  should  be  removed  from 
the  Governorship  of  Pegu,  where  he  was  causing  friction 
and  breaking  the  provisions  of  the  commercial  treaty  of 

Maung  Ok  was  superseded,  but  the  new  Governor 
sent  to  Rangoon  was  accompanied  by  a  large  army,  while 
very  large  bodies  of  troops  were  also  moved  down  to 
Bassein,  the  western  seaport,  and  to  Martaban  on  the 
east,  almost  opposite  Moulmein.  The  new  Governor  at 
once  proved  himself  just  the  same  sort  of  man  as  his 
predecessor  in  his  attitude  towards  the  British  subjects, 
who  were  permanendy  or  temporarily  resident  in  Ran- 

,  In  January,  1852,  Commander  Fishbourne  was  sent 
ashore  by  the  Commodore  with  a  letter  to  the  Governor 
requesting  that  honourable  reception  might  be  accorded 
to  him  as  British  Agent  along  with  a  guard  of  fifty  men, 
as  provided  for  under  Article  VII.  of  the  Treaty  of 
Yandabu.  But  he  was  grossly  insulted,  and  not  even 
allowed  to  present  the  letter  he  had  brought. 

22  .^ 

SECOND    BURMESE    WAR,    1852 

{A  blockade  of  the  port  was  therefore  declared,  and 
some  fighting  took  place  :  then  Commodore  Lambert 
returned  to  Calcutta  in  order  to  confer  with  Government 
as  to  the  further  course  to  be  pursued. 

(Measures  were  at  once  taken  to  pour  reinforcements 
into  Arakan  and  Tenasserim.  Before  proceeding  to  ex- 
tremities, however,  Lord  Dalhousie,  in  February,  gave 
the  Burmese  Court  another  chance  of  settling  matters 
without  recourse  to  arms,  but  in  vain.  ^  The  tone  of  the 
letter  was  certainly  most  peremptory,'  yet  King  Pagdn 
never  for  a  moment  believed  that  the  British  would 
really  follow  up  even  a  letter  like  this  with  immediate 
declaration  of  war.  Consequently  no  special  prepara- 
tions were  made  for  defence.  The  ultimatum  was  re- 
ceived at  Amarapura  on  15th  March,  and  hostile  opera- 
tions were  to  be  commenced  if  full  compliance  with  all 
demands  were  not  agreed  to  by  the  ist  April.  Mean- 
while a  force  consisting  of  8,100  troops  had  been  de- 
spatched to  Rangoon  under  the  command  of  General 
Godwin,  C.B.,  while  Commodore  Lambert  commanded 
the  naval  contingent. 

No  reply  being  vouchsafed  to  this  letter,  the  first 
blow  of  the  second  Burmese  war  was  struck  by  the 
British  on  5th  April,  1852,  when  Martaban  was  taken.- 
Rangoon  town  was  occupied  on  the  1 2th,  and  the  Shwe 
Dagon  pagoda  on  the  i6th,  after  heavy  fighting,  when 
the  Burmese  army  retired  northwards.  Bassein  was 
seized  on  the  17th  May,  and  Pegu  was  taken  on  3rd 
June  after  some  sharp  fighting  around  the  Shwe-maw- 
daw  pagoda. 

During  the  rainy  season  the  approval  of  the  Court  of 
Directors  and  of  the  British  Government  was  obtained 
to  the  annexation  of  the  lower  portion  of  the  Irrawaddy 
valley  as  the  only  feasible  measure  of  adequate  redress 
and  of  security  against  recurrence  of  past  friction,  and  it 
was  further  approved  that  the  line  of  annexation  should 
be  drawn  so  as  to  include  the  town  of  Prome  within  the 
new  British  territory.  Lord  Dalhousie  visited  Rangoon 
in  July  and  August,  and  discussed  the  whole  situation 
with  the  civil,  military,  and  naval  authorities.  The  re- 
sult of  this  visit  was  that,  in  September,  General  Godwin 



advanced  on  Prome,  which  he  occupied  after  but  slight 
resistance  on  9th  October,  while  the  Shwesandaw  pa- 
goda and  stockades  were  captured  during  the  course  of 
the  following  week. 

Thinking  that  the  time  had  now  come  for  terminating 
the  war,  Lord  Dalhousie  early  in  December  appointed 
Captain  (afterwards  Sir  Arthur)  Phayre  to  the  Commis- 
sionership  of  Pegu,  and  forwarded  a  letter  to  the  King 
of  Burma  informing  him  that  after  what  had  occurred 
the  province  of  Pegu  should  henceforth  be  a  portion  of 
the  British  territories  in  India.  It  also  added  that  any 
Burmese  troops  still  in  Pegu  or  Martaban  would  be  ex- 
pelled, and  warned  the  King  that  if  he  attempted  to 
interfere  with  the  British  possessions  in  Pegu  hostilities 
would  be  continued  and  His  Majesty's  kingdom  inevit- 
ably and  utterly  extinguished.  On  20th  December, 
1852,  this  proclamation  was  issued,  the  frontier  from 
Arakan  to  the  Salween  being  drawn  along  the  parallel  of 
i9j°  north  latitude.  And  thus  the  second  Burmese  war 
was  brought  to  a  close  without  any  treaty  being  made. 

The  pacification  of  Pegu  and  its  reduction  to  order 
occupied  about  ten  years  of  constant  work.  But  the 
second  half  of  this  period  included  the  years  of  the 
Indian  Mutiny,  when  all  available  troops  were  required 
to  quell  that  uprising  and  to  re-establish  order  through- 
out Upper  India. 

Even  before  this  humiliating  termination  of  the  war 
was  known  at  Amarapura,  a  rebellion  had  broken  out 
there.  ■  King  Pagdn,  conscious  of  being  not  only  dis- 
reputable but  also  very  unpopular,  had  of  late  been  re- 
garding two  half-brothers  of  his  own  with  marked 
jealousy.  One  of  these,  who  found  himself  the  special 
object  of  suspicion,  the  Mindon  Prince,  at  last  felt  his 
life  to  be  unsafe;  so  on  17th  December  he  fled,  accom- 
panied by  his  brother,  the  Mindat  Prince,  to  Moksobo, 
the  dynastic  stronghold.  This,  on  the  part  of  any  prince 
of  the  house  of  Alaung  Payd,  was  ever  a  sign  of  revolt 
and  of  aspiration  to  the  throne. 

Within  a  few  days  the  princes  had  a  sufficient  number 
of  adherents  to  march  on  the  capital.  This  was  done,  al- 
though the  Mindon  Prince  remained  behind  in  M6ks6bo, 



the  very  plausible  reason  given  being  that  he,  a  most 
pious  Buddhist,  was  averse  to  the  shedding  of  blood. 
Even  though  there  was  but  little  real  fighting,  yet  a 
considerable  quantity  of  blood  was  spilled  before  the 
Pagdn  Min  was  dethroned  on  .i8th  February,  1853, 
when  one  of  his  half-brothers  ascended  the  throne  as  the 
Mindon  Minj  (  With  remarkable  humanity  in  a  Burmese 
king,  Mindon  permitted  the  dethroned  monarch  to  reside 
in  honourable  confinement.  There  he  held  a  small  court 
of  his  own,  while  in  other  matters  he  was  treated  with 
much  respect,  until  he  at  length  died  a  natural  death 
after  outliving  his  successor  on  the  throne.  ]. 


Chapter   II 



FROM    1853   TO    1880 

AMONG  other  terms  ratified  in  the  Yandabii  treaty 
of  1826,  with  which  the  first  Burmese  war  was  con- 
cluded, a  stipulation  was  made  that  at  the  Court  of  each 
Government  an  accredited  Minister  should  be  placed  by 
the  other  State  and  requisite  facility  given  for  providing 
him  with  a  suitable  guard  and  residence.  Subsidiary  to 
this  treaty  a  commercial  agreement  was  also  made  in  the 
same  year ;  but  it  soon  became  apparent  that  the  Bur- 
mese Government  had  no  real  intention  of  carrying  out 
such  conventions  in  the  spirit  of  civilised  nations.  After 
repeated  failures  the  Government  of  India  at  last,  in 
1840,  abandoned  the  attempt  to  maintain  any  representa- 
tive at  Amarapura.  After  the  second  Burmese  war  of 
1852,  when  the  kingdom  of  Ava  was  shorn  of  all  its 
coast-line  and  cut  off  from  the  sea  so  as  to  become  a 
purely  inland  territory,  a  special  mission  was  sent  to 
Amdrapura,  where  it  was  suitably  received.  But  any- 
thing like  regular  diplomatic  representation  of  the 
Government  of  India,  which  had  been  suspended  in 
1840,  was  not  resumed  till  many  years  afterwards. 
//  In  1862  Sir  Arthur  Phayre,  the  first  Chief  Commis- 
sioner of  British  Burma,  negotiated  a  new  commercial 
treaty  with  King  Mindon  at  Mandalay,  and  left  an  Agent 
there  to  see  that  due  observance  was  paid  to  the  clauses 
relating  to  free  navigation  of  the  Irrawaddy  and  to  cus- 
toms dues.  Under  this  convention  traders  from  British 
territory  were  to  be  allowed,  without  let  or  hindrance 
from  the  Burmese  authorities,  to  travel  in  such  manner 
as  they  pleased  throughout  the  whole  extent  of  the  Irra- 


CONCESSIONS    TO    AVA,    1863 

waddy  river  and  to  purchase  whatever  they  required, 
while  similar  advantages  were  secured  to  Burmese 
traders  along  the  lower  portion  of  the  Irrawaddy  in 
British  Burma.  To  promote  trade  the  British  abolished 
certain  customs  duties  levied  on  the  southern  side 
of  the  frontier,  but  the  Burmese  indefinitely  delayed 
performance  of  their  part  of  the  agreement.  Royal 
monopolies  acted  very  prejudicially  for  the  develop- 
ment of  trade,  and  altogether  the  working  of  the  treaty 
was  not  successful,  although  considerable  sacrifices  had 
been  made  by  the  Government  of  India  to  foster 
trade  and  to  ensure  freedom  from  arbitrary  interference. 
At  the  time  of  their  abolition,  in  1863,  the  British  frontier 
duties  yielded  over  ^60,000  a  year,  while  foreign 
goods  imported  through  Rangoon  for  consumption  in 
Upper  Burma  were  chargeable  with  a  nominal  duty  of 
only  one  per  cent,  although  upon  such  goods  imported 
for  use  in  British  Burma  a  duty  of  five  per  cent,  was 
levied  (except  as  regarded  spirits,  upon  which  the  duty 
amounted  to  about  100  per  cent.).  This  concession  alone 
amounted  to  about  another  ;^30,ooo  annually.  But 
a  further  privilege  existed  as  regards  rice,  of  which 
Upper  Burma  required  large  supplies.  Its  export  up 
the  Irrawaddy  was  allowed  free  of  charge,  whereas  all 
exports  by  sea  were  chargeable  with  a  duty  of  about  five 
rupees  a  ton  (or  about  ten  shillings  at  that  time). 

Matters  had  again  become  so  unsatisfactory  by  1867 
that  the  Government  of  India  intimated  to  the  Court  of 
Ava  their  intention  to  restore  the  frontier  duties  unless 
negotiations  were  entered  into  for  a  new  and  more  satis- 
factory treaty.  A  new  commercial  treaty  was  accord- 
ingly concluded  by  Colonel  Fytche  in  1867.  Notwith- 
standing certain  defects,  this  new  convention,  while 
confirming  the  agreement  of  1862,  pledged  the  Govern- 
ment of  Ava  to  several  valuable  commercial  arrange- 
ments, one  of  which  was  the  restriction  of  the  trade 
monopolies  retained  in  the  hands  of  the  king.  It  like- 
wise conferred  upon  the  British  Resident  recognised 
powers  to  watch  over  British  interests,  by  securing  for 
him  certain  civil  jurisdiction  over  cases  concerning  British 
subjects  in  Avan  territory;  and  it  provided  for  a  political 



ao-ent,  subordinate  to  the  Resident  at  Mandalay,  being 
srationed  at  Bhamo,  the  town  in  the  north  through  which 
the  bulk  of  the  trade  with  Yunnan  was  carried  on. 

From  1867  to  1879  the  Government  of  India  were 
continuously  represented  by  a  Resident  at  Mandalay,'' 
and  the  political  and  commercial  arrangements  between 
the  two  countries  were  placed  upon  a  basis  of  reciprocity 
which  was  accepted  in  theory,  though  evaded  in  practice, 
by  the  Court  of  Ava.  But  questions  of  various  sorts 
arose  from  time  to  time,  some  of  which  were  settled 
temporarily  and  provisionally,  while  others  were  allowed 
to  drag  on  without  any  attempt  at  a  settlement  being 
made  by  the  Upper  Burmese  authorities.;  To  neglect 
obligations  whenever  possible,  and  to  temporise  merely 
when  brought  to  book,  were  of  course  the  only  tactics 
that  could  be  expected  of  such  a  nation.  Apart  from  the 
facts  that  the  principal  concessions  secured  by  treaty  for 
British  traders  were  only  temporary,  for  a  period  of  ten 
years,  and  had  never  been  carried  out,  while  guarantees 
for  their  proper  observance  were  altogether  inadequate, 
the  other  three  main  causes  of  friction  referred,  firstly,  to 
"the  Shoe  Question,"  or  the  want  of  a  proper  system  of 
diplomatic  intercourse ;  secondly,  to  the  proper  treat- 
ment of  British  subjects  in  Upper  Burmese  territory  ; 
and,  thirdly,  to  certain  territorial  discussions.  These 
four  questions  of  importance  varied  in  urgency,  but,  to- 
wards the  close  of  King  Mindon's  reign,  they  had  all 
assumed  the  status  of  pending  cases  which  it  was  neces- 
sary to  bring  to  some  practical  issue.  The  hope  of 
solving  them  by  means  of  friendly  negotiation  was  futile. 
The  attitude  of  the  Government  of  India,  reluctant  to 
proceed  to  force,  merely  encouraged  the  Court  of  Ava 
to  assume  and  maintain  an  attitude  of  indifference  with 
regard  to  proposals  and  remonstrances  made  in  a  spirit 
of  forbearance,  and  repeatedly  renewed. 

As  the  commercial  treaties  of  1862  and  1867  were 
found  to  require  revision,  overtures  were  made  with  this 
view  in  1877,  ^^^  repeated  in  the  following  year:  but 
they  proved  unsuccessful.  King  Mindon  was  then  ap- 
proaching his  end,  and  the  Government  of  India  hoped 
that  his  successor  might  feel  inclined  to  inaugurate  his 



reign  by  adopting  a  new  and  more  conciliatory  poVicyyj 
For  about  five  years  previous  to  Mindon's  death,  in 
1878,  all  overtures  and  remonstrances  on  the  part  of  the 
Government  of  India  were  ignored  and  disregarded  by 
the  Court  of  Ava ;  and  it  became  perfectly  clear  that, 
unless  they  were  urged  in  peremptory  terms,  and  en- 
forced by  other  pressure  if  necessary,  the  mere  arrange- 
ment of  a  new  commercial  agreement  would  of  itself  not 
improve  the  state  of  affairs  then  existing. 

The  way  in  which  King  Mindon  managed  to  evade 
the  spirit  of  the  treaties  was  ingenious,  though  un- 
scrupulous. Previous  to  the  treaty  of  1867,  the  Burmese 
Government  would,  from  time  to  time,  arbitrarily  pro- 
scribe particular  articles  of  commerce,  and  notify  the 
trade  in  them  throughout  Upper  Burma  to  be  a  royal 
monopoly.  The  effect  of  this  was  to  debar  private 
traders  from  purchasing  any  of  these  proscribed  articles 
direct  from  the  producer.  The  producer  had  to  sell 
these  classes  of  goods  at  fixed  rates  to  the  king's  agents, 
who  vended  them  at  high  profits  to  other  trgiders.  The 
treaty  of  1867  stipulated  for  the  royal  monopolies  being 
confined  to  teak-timber,  earth-oil,  and  precious  stones, 
while  all  other  goods  and  merchandise  were,  throughout 
a  period  of  ten  years,  to  be  subject  to  a  duty  of  five  per 
cent,  ad  valorem,  leviable  at  the  Burmese  custom-houses. 
'The  object  of  this  was  to  confine  the  old  system  of 
monopolies  to  the  three  products  specifically  named, 
and  it  was  expected  that  the  large  and  steadily  increasing 
general  commerce  between  Lower  and  Upper  Burma 
would  only  be  interfered  with  by  the  Burmese  Govern- 
ment in  so  far  as  was  necessary  for  the  levy  of  the 
stipulated  customs  duty.  ;  But  the  king  was  by  far  the 
largest  produce-merchant  in  Upper  Burma,  and,  until 
his  requirements  had  been  fully  met,  none  of  his  sub- 
jects were  able  to  transact  business  with  other  traders. 
Thus,  while  the  royal  monopolies  were  nominally  reduced 
to  timber,  petroleum,  rubies,  and  jade,  so  that  traders 
were  at  liberty  to  buy  and  sell  freely,  and  without  re- 
striction, whatever  they  wanted,  yet  the  fact  remained 
that  all  purchases  had  practically  to  be  made  from  the 
king  or  from  the  Pweza,  his  brokers  or  agents.    By  these 


means  the  spirit  of  the  treaty  was  circumvented,  and  its 
main  object  frustrated,  without  the  king  being  directly 
chargeable   with   actual   violation   or    infraction   of  the 
verbal  terms. 

Again,  in  the  case  of  goods  imported  from  Lower  into 
Upper  Burma,  the  European  merchants  in  Rangoon  re- 
presented to  the  Government  of  India  that  pressure  was 
brought  to  bear  upon  independent  dealers  to  induce  them 
to  sell  goods  preferentially  to  the  royal  brokers,  from 
whom  alone  the  king's  subjects  were  allowed  to  buy. 
All  of  these  unwarrantable  proceedings  tended  to  reduce 
the  trade  in  staple  products  between  Lower  and  Upper 
Burma  to  practical  monopolies  in  the  hands  of  the  king, 
and  of  those  who  dealt  with  him  on  his  own  terms.  The 
effect  of  this  cramping  system  was  to  interfere  with  the 
action  of  private  traders,  both  as  to  the  remunerative  sale 
of  goods  imported  from  Lower  Burma  and  the  purchase 
of  articles  for  export  from  Upper  Burma. 

The  "  Shoe  Question  "  was  an  indignity  of  long  stand- 
ing. The  British  Envoy  or  the  Minister  at  Mandalay 
had  always  submitted,  on  the  occasion  of  official  visits 
to  the  palace,  to  the  enforcement  of  a  ceremonial  re- 
quiring him  to  take  off  his  shoes  before  entering  the 
royal  presence,  and  to  sit  upon  the  floor  before  the  king. 
It  is  the  custom  in  Burma  that  an  inferior  should  sit 
before  a  superior  in  such  manner  that  his  feet  should 
not  be  visible,  for  the  feet  are,  in  more  than  one  sense, 
considered  an  inferior  part  of  the  body.  Hence  the 
respectful  position  amounts  to  kneeling  down  on  the 
floor  and  sitting  upon  one's  feet — a  form  of  making 
obeisance  called  Sheko.  When  Sir  Douglas  Forsyth 
was  sent  upon  a  mission  to  Mandalay,  in  1875,  he  was 
instructed  to  use  his  own  discretion  as  to  following  past 
precedent  in  his  interview  with  King  Mindon,  but  not 
to  let  such  mere  questions  of  form  militate  against  the 
success  of  his  negotiations ;  and  he  accordingly  com- 
plied with  the  past  usage  by  divesting  himself  of  sword 
and  shoes  before  entering  the  palace,  and  seating  himself 
on  the  floor  with  his  feet  tucked  in  behind  him,  in  the 
posture  of  a  supplicant  before  the  king.  But,  when  his 
mission  had  been  concluded.  Sir  Douglas  Forsyth  raised 



in  his  report  the  question  of  continuing  to  submit  to  a 
ceremonial  so  degrading  to  a  British  Envoy.     A  further 
opportunity  of  discussing  this  point  was  simultaneously 
obtained  at  the  end  of  that  year,  when  the  King  of  Ava 
sent  an  Envoy  to  Calcutta  to  greet  His  Royal  Highness 
the    Prince   of  Wales,   then  making  his   tour   in  India. 
Intimation  was  given  to  the  Envoy  that  as  the  Govern- 
ment  of   India  had  assumed  direct  relations   with   the 
Burmese  Court,  it  was  necessary  that  the  British  Resi- 
dent should  be  received  in  a  manner  suitable  to  his  high 
rank,  and  should  in  this  respect  receive  similar  treatment 
to  that  accorded  to  the  Envoy  by  the  Viceroy.     When 
the  members  of  the  mission  from  Ava  obtained  audience 
from  the  Viceroy  a  few  days  later,  they  wore  head-cover- 
ing and  shoes,  and  they  were  accommodated  with  chairs. 
The  Envoy  was  then  verbally  informed  by  Lord  North- 
brook  that  it  was  impossible  the  custom  observed  at  the 
Court  of  Mandalay  should  continue  any  longer,  and  that 
it  must  cease,  although  the  matter  would  not  be  pressed 
in  a  manner  distasteful  to  the  king.     At  the  same  time 
Colonel   Duncan,   then   Resident  at   Mandalay,  was  in- 
structed not  to  take  off  his  shoes  or  to  sit  on  the  floor 
when  received  in  audience   by  the  king  ;    but    Mindon 
tacitly  declined  to  comply  with  this  request.     The  con- 
sequence was,  that  from  then  till  the  final   withdrawal 
of  the  British  representatives  from  Mandalay,  in  Octo- 
ber,   1879,    no   British   Resident    was    ever    again    re- 
ceived   in  audience,    business   between    the    latter   and 
the  Court  being  conducted  through  the  Burmese  Min- 

This  suspension  of  direct  personal  intercourse  was 
directly  inimical  to  British  influence,  for  it  often  hap- 
pened that,  under  such  an  absolutely  autocratic  monarchy, 
the  success  of  diplomatic  representations  ultimately  de- 
pended entirely  on  the  influence  and  arguments  which 
the  Resident  could  personally  bring  to  bear  on  the  king. 
Among  the  ministers  were  some  who,  besides  being  un- 
trustworthy as  to  general  character,  had  their  own 
special  and  peculiar  interests  to  look  after :  hence  the 
Resident  could  never  rely  upon  matters  being  correctly 
represented    to  the  king.      Upon  critical  occasions   he 



could  not  act  promptly  and  energetically  without  having 
the  right  of  royal  audience. 

Whenever  this  ''  Shoe  Question "  was  broached  by 
the  Resident,  the  Ministers  of  the  Court  of  Ava  were 
markedly  averse  to  discuss  it,  and  it  became  very  plain 
that  the  resolute  determination  existed  not  to  yield  to 
ordinary  diplomatic  pressure  upon  the  point.  That  it 
was  necessary  to  terminate  this  degrading  ceremony, 
and  to  insist  on  more  civilised  treatment  for  their  ac- 
credited Minister,  was  equally  clear  to  the  Government 
of  India ;  but  it  seems  to  have  been  a  mistake  to  make 
the  intimation  that  the  taking  off  of  shoes  and  making 
S/ie/(;(^  by  the  British  Resident  was  not  to  be  continued 
without  the  Government  of  India  being  prepared  to  in- 
sist both  on  a  suitable  form  of  reception  being  arranged, 
and  on  full  privilege  of  access  to  the  king  being  secured 
to  their  representative.  It  was  a  weak  policy,  because 
it  led  Government  into  a  not  altogether  creditable 
impasse  for  the  last  three  years  of  King  Mindon's  reign  ; 
and,  when  Thibaw  succeeded  him,  the  opportunity  was 
lost  of  insisting  on  an  improved  status  of  the  diplomatic 
situation  at  Mandalay. 

The  treatment  of  British  subjects  under  Burmese 
jurisdiction,  and  the  disparity  between  the  laws  and  the 
official  usages  of  Lower  and  Upper  Burma,  were  also 
among  the  chief  matters  calling  for  consideration.  In 
1878  a  variety  of  cases  occurred  in  which  British  subjects 
were  barbarously  treated  and  subjected  to  wanton  in- 
dignities. Only  two  typical  instances  need  be  mentioned 
by  way  of  illustration.  In  one  of  these,  two  dhobi  or 
washermen,  who  had  been  assisting  the  Burmese  police 
in  catching  some  thieves  and  conveying  them  to  the 
guard-house,  were  seized  by  some  other  police  while  re- 
turning home,  and  charged  with  being  out  after  dark 
without  a  lantern.  In  place  of  merely  being  confined 
till  the  facts  of  the  case  could  be  ascertained,  the  two 
unfortunate  washermen  were  thrown  into  the  stocks, 
which  were  raised  so  high  by  pegs  as  to  threaten  dislo- 
cation of  the  ankles.  While  in  this  position  a  bribe  of 
six  rupees  was  demanded,  and  the  two  men  had  to  give 
up  their  turbans  as  a  pledge  for  the  bribe  in  order  to  be 


KING    MINDON'S    DEATH,    1878 

relieved  of  further  torture.  Simultaneously  with  this, 
Captain  Doyle,  of  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla  Company's 
steamer  Chindwin,  unintentionally  trespassed  on  the  river 
bund  at  Mandalay  by  crossing  it  to  avoid  a  muddy  bit 
of  road.  H  The  path  he  took  was  a  beaten  track  across 
the  bund,  and  there  was  nothing  to  indicate  that  its 
use  was  prohibited.  When  challenged  by  the  Burmese 
police  he  at  once  came  down  from  the  bund,  but  was 
seized,  thrown  into  the  stocks,  and  exhibited  there  to  the 
public  gaze  for  two  hours,  till  relieved  at  the  instance  of 
Mr.  Andreino,  the  Company's  agent. 

These  cases  were  reported  to  the  Minister  by  the 
British  Resident  on  4th  September,  1878.  Presuming 
them  to  be  the  unauthorized  acts  of  the  lowest  classes  of 
officials,  it  was  pointed  out  that  prompt  and  sufficient 
punishment  would  be  taken  as  a  proof  of  the  Burmese 
Government  being  actuated  by  friendly  feelings  for  the 
British.  A  couple  of  months  later,  on  5th  November, 
the  underlings  concerned  in  the  dhobi  case  were  con- 
demned to  ten  stripes  and  restitution  of  twice  the  sum 
extorted  ;  while  In  Doyle's  case  the  captain  of  the  town- 
gate,  where  the  Indignity  was  perpetrated,  was  degraded 
from  his  post  and  imprisoned. 

Mandalay  was  at  that  time  in  a  very  bad  state.  During 
the  month  of  September  King  Mindon  lay  dying.  The 
palace  was  a  hot-bed  of  intrigue,  and  the  Ministers  whose 
influence  worked  for  good  were  thwarted  and  Interfered 
with  by  those  who  were  bent  on  evil.  On  21st  Sep- 
tember the  Thibaw  Prince  was  declared  heir-apparent  to 
the  Burmese  throne,  and  on  ist  October,  after  many 
false  rumours,  authentic  Intelligence  was  at  last  received 
of  the  King's  death.  His  body  lay  in  state  for  seven 
days,  and  then  he  was  buried  between  the  mausoleums 
of  two  of  his  queens  near  the  great  council  chamber, 
outside  of  the  main  gate  of  the  palace  enclosure.^' 

The  British  Resident  was  authorized  to  Intimate  to 
the  Court  of  Ava  that  general  recognition  and  support 
of  King  Thibaw  by  the  Government  of  India  would  be 
proportionate  to  his  adopting  a  more  friendly  policy 
towards  them  and  their  subjects,  and  that  evidences  of 
this  would  be  expected  In  greater  consideration  for  the 

33  D 


position  and  influence  of  the  Resident  and  in  according 
him  free  access  to  the  King.  One  of  the  first  evidences 
of  the  spirit  which  ruled  in  the  palace  occurred  on  the 
31st  October,  in  connexion  with  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla 
Company's  steamer  Yankintaung,  under  Captain  Pater- 
son.  Before  leaving  Mandalay  the  steamer  was  boarded, 
and  certain  passengers  were  demanded  to  be  given  up 
for  the  purpose  of  being  taken  away.  As  no  written 
authority  was  produced,  the  Captain  refused  to  allow 
his  passengers  to  be  abducted  in  this  manner,  and  left 
his  moorings.  On  arrival  at  Myingyan,  about  eighty 
miles  down  stream,  the  Company's  agent  received  a 
note  from  the  Governor,  which  appeared  to  be  a 
telegram  from  Mandalay,  directing  the  seizure  of  thirty 
of  the  passengers ;  but  a  reply  was  given  that  the 
Governor's  warrant  or  writf^n  order  was  necessary 
before  the  Captain  could  be  required  to  deliver  over  the 
men.  During  the  night  over  a  hundred  armed  men, 
under  two  officials,  boarded  the  steamer  and  forcibly 
abducted  the  passengers  in  question.  It  must  be 
remembered  that  this  was  a  steamer  carrying  Her 
Majesty's  mails  and  flying  the  British  flag. 

But  for  the  patience  of  the  British  Government  and  the 
various  political  events  which  were  then  peremptorily 
claiming  their  attention  in  other  portions  of  the  empire 
at  this  particular  juncture,  these  acts  of  injustice  and 
indignity  must  have  ended  in  open  rupture  with  the 
Court  of  Ava.  As  it  was,  the  procedure  adopted  was 
to  ask,  through  the  Resident,  for  explanation  and 
redress,  which  were  never  conceded  without  unnecessary 
delays  deliberately  made  with  the  intention  of  showing 
that  the  King  considered  himself,  and  wished  to  exhibit 
himself  in  the  eyes  of  his  subjects,  as  strong  enough 
to  heap  indignities  and  even  inflict  barbarous  tortures 
on  British  subjects  without  fear  of  disastrous  conse- 
quences to  himself.  The  manifestation  of  this  spirit 
of  bravado  had  been  increasing  during  the  last  years 
of  Mindon's  reign,  but  it  culminated  when  he  lay 
stricken  with  fatal  illness  and  then  passed  away,  leaving 
the  kingdom  to  his  successor  and  to  the  practical 
guidance  of  the  ignorant,  barbarous,  and  unscrupulous 



men   whose   influence   was   greatest  in  the  Council   of 
the  State. 

Even  in  purely  judicial  matters  great  difficulty  was 
experienced  in  obtaining  any  remedy  for  injustice  to 
British  subjects,  for  the  careless  indifference  or  inten- 
tional laches  of  the  Mandalay  officials  led  to  interminable 
delays  in  the  law  courts  and  in  the  definite  settlement  of 
suits  instituted.  As  there  was  little  reason  to  hope  for 
reforms  in  the  judicial  administration  of  Upper  Burma 
the  Government  of  India,  though  naturally  unwilling  to 
interfere  with  the  Burmese  jurisdiction,  found  themselves 
forced  to  face  the  question  of  securing  adequate  pro- 
tection for  their  subjects  by  insisting  on  the  enforcement 
of  extra-territorial  rights  for  them  and  for  the  establish- 
ment of  British  Courts  of  Justice  for  the  settlement  of 
cases  affecting  British  subjects.  Such  extra-territorial 
judicial  rights  and  courts  were  no  novelty  in  oriental 

The  territorial  questions  in  debate  were  also  by  no 
means  unimportant.  After  the  second  Burmese  war  of 
1852,  the  King  of  Burma  refused  to  cede  any  portion  of 
the  territory  conquered  by  the  British,  arid  all  attempts 
to  negotiate  a  treaty  proved  ineffectual.^  The  matter 
was  soon  settled,  however,  by  the  Viceroy,  Lord 
Dalhousie,  defining  as  the  northern  boundary  of  the 
British  province  a  line  drawn  along  the  parallel  of 
latitude  six  miles  north  of  the  fort  at  Myede,  from  the 
crest  of  the  Arakan  hill  range  on  the  west  to  the 
Salween  river  on  the  east.  As  the  coast  territories 
of  Arakan  and  Tenasserim  had  been  ceded  under 
the  treaty  of  Yandabu  in  1826,  on  the  conclusion  of 
the  first  Burmese  war,  this  prompt  and  powerful 
action  of  Lord  Dalhousie  added  all  the  coast  of  Pegu 
to  the  British  possessions  and  completely  shut  off 
the  kingdom  of  Ava  from  the  coast-line.  The  loss  of 
Rangoon,  then  little  more  than  a  mere  fishing  village 
on  a  swampy  tidal  bank  where  each  ebb  of  the  water 
laid  bare  long  black  stretches  of  oozy  mud,  was  not 
so  much  felt  by  the  King  as  that  of  the  port  of  Bassein 
situated  on  the  Ngawun  river,  the  extreme  western 
branch   of   the    Irrawaddy    delta,    near    Cape    Negrais. 



During  the  whole  of  the  twenty-five  years  of  King 
Mindon's  reign  he  never  ceased  cherishing  the  hope 
that  he  might  one  day  get  back  this  port  as  part  of  his 

In  pursuance  of  the  Viceroy's  orders,  a  survey  party, 
accompanied  by  a  suitable  military  escort,  proceeded  to 
clear  the  boundary  line  and  demarcate  it  with  suitable 
pillars.  The  work  was  under  the  charge  of  Major 
Allan — whose  name  still  exists  in  Allanmyo,  the  old 
frontier  customs'  station  on  the  Irrawaddy.  For  the 
most  part  the  line  had  to  be  carried  through  dense 
woodlands  and  thick  jungles  offering  considerable 
material  difficulties  to  rapid  progress.  From  west  of  the 
Irrawaddy  across  the  Pegu  range  of  hills,  and  beyond 
the  Sittang  river,  the  work  was  duly  performed  ;  but 
before  the  cleared  line  could  reach  its  eastern  limit  on 
the  Salween  river,  the  survey  officers  had  to  suspend 
operations  in  Western  Karenni,  whose  inhabitants 
claimed  recognition  of  their  independence  on  the 
ground  that  this  had  always  been  respected  by  the 
Kings  of  Burma.  On  the  matter  being  referred  to  Lord 
Dalhousie,  he  agreed  to  respect  their  alleged  independ- 
ence, subject  to  the  proviso  that,  if  any  future  attempt 
should  be  made  by  the  Court  of  Ava  to  obtain 
possession  of  this  tract,  the  British  Government  would 
interpose  to  defeat  it.  As  Western  Karenni  was  sur- 
rounded on  the  north  by  Upper  Burmese  territory,  the 
officials  in  the  latter  habitually  endeavoured  to  ferment 
trouble  on  our  frontier  by  instigating  the  Karenni  to 
annoyances.  In  1873  King  Mindon  took  a  farther  step 
in  claiming  suzerainty  over  Western  Karenni  on  the 
ground  that  it  had  always  paid  tribute  to  him.  Two 
years  having  been  wasted  in  correspondence  and  repre- 
sentations about  the  matter.  Lord  Northbrook  finally 
ordered  military  preparations  for  repelling,  if  necessary, 
further  interference  by  the  Upper  Burmese  in  Western 
Karenni.  This  was  the  main  cause  of  Sir  Douglas 
Forsyth's  special  mission  to  Mandalay  in  1S75,  which 
resulted  in  an  amicable  agreement  that  Western 
Karenni  was  to  be  recognized  and  to  remain  a  separate 
and    independent    State.       The    demarcation     of    the 



boundary  between  Western  Karenni  and  Upper  Burma 
was  thereupon  undertaken  by  the  British  authorities,  the 
Court  of  Ava  tacitly  decHning  when  invited  to  co- 
operate in  carrying  it  out.  Intimation  was  at  the  same 
time  given  that  the  British  Government  reserved  to 
themselves  the  right  of  prolonging  their  boundary 
eastwards  to  the  Salween  river  in  accordance  with 
Lord  Dalhousie's  dictum  of  1853,  whenever  this  might 
seem  desirable.  This  arrangement  was  in  many  ways 
unsatisfactory.  Free  from  control,  the  Karenni  country 
became  a  sort  of  sanctuary  for  lawless  characters  and  a 
source  of  constant  disturbance  to  the  tranquillity  of  the 
British  frontier. 

On  the  western  boundary  of  Upper  Burma  another 
territorial  difficulty  sprang  up,  during  the  closing  years  of 
Mindon's  reign,  through  the  advancement  and  erection 
of  a  Burmese  outpost  on  land  which  was  known  to 
be  within  the  frontier  of  the  Arakan  Commissionership 
of  Lower  Burma.  Requests  for  the  removal  of  this 
outpost  were  practically  ignored,  beyond  the  casual 
expression  of  a  doubt  as  to  the  validity  of  the  Yandabu 
treaty  of  1826,  which  the  Burmese  alleged  to  be  now 
obsolete  and  out  of  date.  While  the  Government  of 
India  could  not  afford  to  permit  any  doubt  to  exist  as  to 
the  validity  of  this  treaty,  which  formed  the  permanent 
deed  of  settlement  regarding  the  cession  of  the  territory 
in  Arakan,  this  little  frontier  incident  was  obviously 
a  matter  for  friendly  agreement  by  laying  down  the 
boundary  and  demarcating  it  in  a  permanent  manner. 
But  this  was  just  what  the  Burmese  declined  to  do. 
They  would  neither  comply  with  legitimate  demands, 
nor  adjust  the  disputed  questions  in  a  friendly  manner. 
Obviously,  the  proper  step  to  take  under  such  circum- 
stances was  to  notify  to  the  Court  of  Ava  that,  if  the 
obnoxious  outpost  were  not  withdrawn  within  a  reason- 
able time,  it  would  be  removed  by  the  British  Govern- 
ment ;  but  as  this  was  in  itself  only  a  minor  matter, 
it  was  merged  in  the  general  list  of  outstanding 
questions  requiring  settlement  between  the  Governments 
of  India  and  Upper  Burma. 

Up  to  this  time,  and  till  some  years  later,  the  external 



relations  of  the  Court  of  Ava  with  other  nations  than 
the  British  did  not  occasion  much  concern  to  the 
Government  of  India.  A  Treaty  of  Commerce  between 
France  and  Upper  Burma  had  been  signed  in  Paris,  on 
24th  January,  1873,  and  its  ratification  was  authorized 
by  the  French  National  Assembly ;  but  such  ratification 
was  not  effected  till  April,  1884,  when  another  Burmese 
embassy  visited  Paris  to  undertake  fresh  negotiations, 
which  will  be  referred  to  later  on.  It  need  only  be 
remarked  here  that,  in  order  to  arrange  the  question  of  the 
ratification  with  Ava,  a  M.  de  Rochechouart  was  sent  to 
Mandalay.  Instead  of  insisting  upon  the  confirmation 
of  the  Convention  already  concluded  at  Paris,  he  took 
upon  himself  to  sign  another  Treaty  as  a  substitute  for 
or  a  supplement  to  it.  This  new  Treaty  contained  such 
objectionable  clauses  {mter  alia,  giving  Upper  Burma 
certain  facilities  for  purchasing  arms)  that  objections 
were  raised  by  the  British  Cabinet  and  a  promise  was 
obtained  from  the  French  Government  that  this  Treaty 
should  not  be  ratified. 

As  the  interests  affected  by  the  relations  between 
Upper  Burma  and  India  in  1878  were  mainly  com- 
mercial rather  than  political,  the  political  position  of  the 
Court  of  Ava  with  reference  to  other  foreign  countries 
had  not  yet  assumed  the  importance  they  were  sub- 
sequently to  acquire  a  few  years  later.  What  concerned 
the  Government  of  India  most  were  the  unsatisfactory 
commercial  relations,  the  treatment  of  British  subjects, 
the  want  of  satisfactory  judicial  arrangements,  the 
settlement  of  pending  territorial  questions,  and  the  status 
of  the  Resident  at  Mandalay.  . 

On  King  Mindon's  death  it  was  felt  that  the  time  had 
come  for  collecting  all  these  various  questions  and  sub- 
mitting them  to  the  Secretary  of  State  for  decision  as  to 
a  settled  policy  in  dealing  with  the  existing  state  of 
affairs.  It  was  plainly  pointed  out,  in  forwarding  for 
approval  the  proposals  of  the  Government  of  India,  that 
there  seemed  absolutely  no  hope  of  any  adequate  settle- 
ment of  the  pending  questions  unless  a  marked  improve- 
ment of  the  position  of  the  British  Resident  was  to 
be  insisted   on.     His    extremely  unsatisfactory  position 


TREATY    RELATIONS    IN    1878 

was  the  primary  obstacle  to  success  in  placing  British 
relations  with  Upper  Burma  on  a  footing  more  con- 
sistent with  the  dignity  of  the  Government  of  India,  and 
more  conducive  to  the  protection  and  the  development 
of  the  interests  committed  to  their  charge.  But  no  steps 
could  be  taken  by  the  Government  of  India  to  ensure 
proper  treatment  unless  the  British  Cabinet  were  pre- 
pared to  authorize  armed  force  being  used,  if  necessary, 
to  secure  compliance  with  the  demands  once  it  was  de- 
cided to  formulate  and  present  them. 

/[When  King  Mindon  died,  in  1878,  it  was  hoped  that 
the  very  unsatisfactory  condition  of  these  relations 
might  perhaps  spontaneously  become  improved.  It  was 
known  that  the  late  King  felt  strong  personal  reluctance 
to  sign  or  to  recognize  any  Treaty  recording  the  cession 
of  any  portion  of  his  territories,  and  it  was  believed  that 
this  sentiment  strengthened  his  dislike  of  anything  in  the 
shape  of  a  treaty  adjusting  and  regulating  commercial 
and  political  relations.  Moreover,  the  strong  trading 
instincts  which  led  him  to  extend  and  abuse  the  system 
of  monopolies  were  also  regarded  as  probably  personal 
idiosyncrasies  from  which  his  successor  might  perhaps 
be  free.  But  it  soon  became  evident  that  no  such 
spontaneous  action  was  to  be  expected  from  King 
Thibaw,  and  that  no  overtures  he  might  make  to  the 
Government  of  India  for  the  improvement  of  existing 
relations  could  possibly  be  accepted  as  sincere ;  while 
the  massacres  with  which  his  reign  was  inaugurated,  and 
his  seat  on  the  throne  secured,  rendered  it  impossible  for 
the  Government  of  India  to  take  the  first  steps  in 
making  amicable  overtures  to  the  Court  of  Av^.  What 
was  insisted  on  at  this  juncture  was  the  right,  under  the 
Treaty  of  Yandabii,  to  furnish  the  Resident  with  a 
suitable  guard,  which  the  disturbed  condition  of  Upper 
Burma  rendered  absolutely  necessary.  This  proposal 
was  opposed  by  the  King's  Ministers,  and  they  only 
yielded  to  strong  and  persistent  pressure  from  the 
Government  of  India. 

In  the  kingdom  of  Ava  succession  to  the  throne  did 
not  necessarily  go  by  primogeniture,  but  by  the  exercise 
of  royal  prerogative.     It  was  the  custom  of  the  country 



that  an  Einshd  Min,  or  heir  apparent,  a  "  prince  in 
front  of  the  house,"  was  formally  elected  by  the  King, 
and  was  thereafter  associated  with  him  in  the  govern- 
ment. He  became  vice-president  of  the  State  Council, 
and  was  ex  officio  regent  at  Mandalay  whenever  the  King 
might  be  absent  The  heir  apparent,  the  King's  brother, 
who  had  been  elected  early  in  his  reign  by  Mindon, 
was  killed  in  1866,  when  two  of  Mindon's  elder  sons, 
displeased  on  that  account,  endeavoured  to  assassinate 
their  father  and  uncle.  King  Mindon  had  in  all 
about  thirty  sons  ;  but,  as  they  grew  up,  he  delayed  till 
his  last  moments  to  carry  out  the  duty  of  formally 
appointing  his  successor.  In  this  he  was  actuated  partly, 
no  doubt,  by  fear  of  his  own  assassination,  but  also  by 
the  knowledge  that  the  nomination  of  an  heir  apparent 
might  probably  lead  to  civil  war.  Each  of  his  four 
principal  sons  aspired  to  the  succession,  and  each  of  them 
had  a  political  following.  Of  these  the  Nyaungyan 
Prince,  of  whose  legitimacy  there  was  no  doubt,  was  the 
most  popular,  while  he  was  the  most  esteemed  and 
trusted  by  the  King  on  account  of  his  intellectual  qualities 
and  humane  disposition.  It  was  generally  believed  that 
Mindon  had  frequently  indicated  his  intention  of 
nominating  this  favourite  son  as  his  successor ;  it  is  said 
that,  in  order  to  save  the  country  from  the  horrors  of 
civil  war,  a  family  compact  had  been  signed  by  all  the 
thirty  royal  princes  mutually  pledging  themselves  to 
respect  the  claims  of  him  upon  whom  the  King's  choice 
might  fall. 

While  on  his  death-bed,  in  September,  1878,  King 
Mindon  sent  for  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  for  the  purpose 
of  conferring  upon  him  the  status  of  heir  apparent ;  but 
in  the  meanwhile  the  mother  of  the  Thibaw  Prince,  the 
youngest  of  the  four  principal  sons  then  in  Mandalay, 
had  made  herself  mistress  of  the  palace.  Apprehensive 
of  treachery,  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  delayed  compliance 
with  the  royal  summons,  and  shortly  afterwards,  during 
the  third  week  in  September,  an  announcement  was  made 
that  the  Thibaw  Prince  had  been  elected  heir  apparent. 
The  mother  of  this  Prince  was  one  of  the  Queens  of 
pure  royal  blood,  but  there  were  supposed  to  be  grave 



doubts  respecting  the  paternity,  and  it  was  said  that  King 
Mindon  had  often  expressed  his  determination  not  to 
select  Thibaw  to  be  his  successor.  Other  accounts  repre- 
sent him  as  the  favourite  of  the  King,  and  it  is  certain 
that  a  very  gorgeous  and  beautiful  miniature  Kyaung,  or 
monastery,  had  been  specially  built  near  the  State  Council 
Chamber  for  the  purpose  of  the  young  Thibaw  Prince 
therein  performing  his  obligatory  duties  in  withdrawing 
for  a  period  from  the  world  and  living  the  life  of  a 
yellow- robed  religious  mendicant,  as  prescribed  for  every 
male  Burmese.  But  Thibaw,  then  a  lad  of  twenty  years 
of  age,  had  there  performed  more  than  the  usual  pre- 
scribed religious  duties  in  this  respect.  He  devoted  him- 
self with  exemplary  zeal  to  the  religious  life,  studied  hard, 
and  attained  the  high  rank  of  a  Patama  Byan  for  dis- 
tinguished excellence  in  knowledge  of  Buddhist  literature 
at  a  competitive  examination  held  by  royal  order  in 
Mandalay.^  Both  from  apparent  habit  of  mind  and  from 
religious  training  it  might  therefore  have  been  antici- 
pated that  Thibaw's  prospective  reign  would  be  in- 
augurated otherwise  than  by  bloodthirsty  and  wholesale 
massacres.  Meanwhile  all  news  of  the  King's  state  of 
health  was  carefully  kept  secret,  although  rumours  were 
already  afloat  that  he  was  dead.  The  city  of  Mandalay 
was  in  a  state  of  alarm  and  unrest,  and  the  Nyaungyan 
Prince  had,  with  his  younger  brother,  the  Nyaungok 
Prince,  to  seek  refuge  in  the  British  Residency,  alleging 
that  their  lives  were  in  danger.  On  the  ist  October 
authentic  intimation  of  the  King's  death  was  at  last 
received  by  the  Resident,  and  he  was  desired  by  the 
Minister  to  deliver  up  the  two  refugees.  Declining  to  do 
this,  he  was  then  requested  to  have  them  deported  to 
India,  on  account  of  the  danger  and  disturbance  to 
which  the  new  King  might  otherwise  be  exposed  from 
their  presence  in  any  part  of  Burma.  This  request  was 
complied  with,  and,  in  maintaining  these  two  Princes 
as  pensioners  in  Calcutta,  the  Government  of  India 
substantially  assisted  in  seating  King  Thibaw  on  his 

The    Burmese    Government    were,    however,  appre- 
hensive of  British  interference  in  the  matter  of  succes- 



sion,  and  moved  troops  southwards  to  the  frontier  of 
Lower  Burma.  Nor  had  the  Government  of  India 
been  idle  in  taking  precautionary  measures  with  regard 
to  trouble  on  the  frontier,  or  danger  to  the  Resident  at 
Mandalay.  In  view  of  the  contingency  of  disputes  as 
to  the  succession,  and  of  lawlessness  sure  to  become 
epidemic  if  a  civil  war  broke  out,  the  armament  of  the 
Indian  Marine  steamer /;'r^z£/^<^^  had  been  strengthened, 
and  she  lay  at  the  military  frontier  station  of  Thayetmyo 
ready  to  proceed  at  once  to  Mandalay  with  troops  to 
strengthen  the  guard  at  the  Residency  whenever  a 
summons  to  this  effect  might  come  from  the  Resident. 

For  some  time  these  arrangements  and  the  fear  of 
further  military  preparations  kept  the  palace  authorities 
in  restraint,  but  this  was  only  a  temporary  lull  before  the 
storm  of  horrors  soon  to  burst  over  Mandalay.  After 
the  flight  of  the  two  Princes  to  the  British  Residency, 
all  the  other  Princes  and  the  Princesses  of  the  royal 
blood  were  confined  within  the  palace.  According  to 
hereditary  custom,  Thibaw  was  married  to  a  half-sister 
of  his  own,  Supayalat,  the  daughter  of  one  of  Mindon's 
chief  Queens.  Ignorant,  domineering,  and  lustful  of 
power,  she  had  great  influence  over  him,  and  persuaded 
him  that,  to  secure  his  position,  it  was  necessary  to  make 
a  holocaust  of  all  those  of  the  blood  royal  who  were  in 
confinement.  Thibaw's  mother  urged  the  same  policy. 
This  horrible  suggestion  met  with  opposition  from  the 
majority  of  the  Ministers.  Two  of  these,  the  Yenan- 
gyaung  Mingyi  and  the  Magwe  Mingy i,  were  deposed 
from  office  in  order  to  weaken  the  opposition  of  the 
Ministry  to  their  barbarous  measure  ;  but  the  scheme  had 
the  support  of  the  notorious  Taingda  Mingyi,  a  military 
chief  lately  promoted  to  high  rank  and  a  great  favourite 
with  the  King,  of  the  Taingda's  son,  the  Governor  of  the 
South  Gate,  and  of  the  Myowiui,  or  Governor  of  Manda- 
lay. Despite  the  more  humane  counsels  of  the  Kinwun 
Mingyi,  the  Prime  Minister,  and  a  few  others  among  the 
high  officials,  orders  were  given  by  the  King  for  the 
massacre  of  the  majority  of  his  relatives.  The  adminis- 
tration was  disorganized  ;  the  chief  executive  power  had 
for  the   time  being    passed    from   the    constitutionally 



responsible  Ministers  into  the  hands  of  the  violent  and 
reckless  party  headed  by  the  Taingda  Mingy i. 

(On  the  night  of  the  15th  February,  1879,  the  jail  to 
the  west  of  the  main  palace  buildings  was  cleared  for  the 
reception  of  the  political  prisoners,  and  a  large  hole  was 
dug  in  the  jail  precincts.  The  massacre  was  begun  on 
that  night  under  the  superintendence  of  the  personal  fol- 
lowers of  the  King,  and  was  continued  on  the  following 
nights,  the  executioners  being  the  worst  among  certain 
ruffians  who  had  just  been  released  from  the  jail  in  order 
to  prepare  it  for  being  the  scene  of  this  crime.  Excited 
with  drink,  they  killed  their  victims  with  bludgeons,  and 
strangled  with  their  hands  those  who  still  had  strength 
left  to  utter  cries.  The  bodies  of  the  women  and  children 
were  thrown  into  the  pit  prepared  in  the  jail,  while 
on  the  following  night  eight  cartloads  of  the  corpses 
of  the  Princes  were  removed  from  the  city  by  the 
western  gate,  and  thrown  into  the  Irrawaddy,  according 
to  custom.  The  massacre  was  continued  during  the 
nights  of  the  i6th  and  the  17th;  and  on  the  19th  Mr. 
Shaw,  the  Resident,  having  meanwhile  received  con- 
firmation of  the  horrors  perpetrated,  intimated  to  the 
Ministers  that  if  any  further  slaughter  occurred  he  would 
haul  down  the  British  flag,  and  break  off  all  relations 
with  the  Court..,  Among  those  who  were  saved  by  this 
remonstrance  Were  the  mother  of  the  Nyaungyan  and 
the  Mingun  Princes  living  under  British  protection  in 
Calcutta,  the  Princess  Salin  Supya,  a  favourite  daughter 
of  the  late  King,  and  some  children  of  the  heir  apparent 
who  was  killed  in  1866.  The  number  of  those  thus 
done  to  death  is  supposed  to  have  amounted  to  about 
eighty,  amongst  whom  were  most  of  the  near  relatives 
of  the  popular  Nyaungyan  Prince.  In  defiance  of  any- 
thing like  international  usage,  emissaries  were  sent  from 
Mandalay  to  Calcutta  to  attempt  the  life  of  the  latter ; 
but,  on  receiving  intimation  that  they  were  under  police 
.  supervision,  they  returned  without  effecting  their  object, 
/f  No  conspiracy  or  other  provocation  was  ever  put  for- 
V  ward  as  a  plea  in  justification  of  either  the  massacres  at 
Mandalay  or  the  attempted  assassination  in  Calcutta.  ) 
The   remonstrances   of   the    Resident  as  to  the  brutal 



massacres  received  the  reply  on  the  following  day,  pre- 
pared under  direct  instructions  from  the  King,  that  it  was 
his  right  as  an  independent  sovereign  to  take  such 
measures  as  seemed  fit  to  prevent  disturbance  in  his  own 
country.  The  Resident  then  requested  that,  as  a  favour 
to  the  British  Government,  the  lives  of  the  remaining 
political  prisoners,  and  especially  of  women  and  children, 
might  be  spared ;  and  he  offered  to  take  charge  of,  and 
to  convey  beyond  reach  of  doing  harm,  any  such  from 
whom  disturbance  to  the  kingdom  might  be  feared. 
This  friendly  offer  was  tacitly  declined  by  the  King  and 
his  advisers.  Remonstrances  had  also  been  made  by  the 
Italian  consul. 

The  Chief  Commissioner  of  British  Burma,  Mr.  (after- 
wards Sir  Charles)  Aitchison,  asked  for  a  reinforcement 
of  the  troops  in  Burma,  as  a  camp  had  been  established 
outside  Mandalay,  and  the  garrison  of  the  river  forts  had 
been  increased,  while  the  Resident  telegraphed  that  the 
violent  party  in  power,  headed  by  the  Taingda  Mingyi, 
desired  a  rupture  with  the  British  Government,  and 
wanted  an  excuse  for  overruling  the  moderate  party  of 
the  Prime  Minister.  Levies  were  demanded  from  seven 
of  the  Shan  chiefs,  the  officers  of  the  army  were  com- 
pletely changed,  and  troops  were  being  drilled  and 
despatched  to  the  frontier,  after  being  armed  with  rifles 
from  the  palace  and  undergoing  the  most  unusual  experi- 
ence of  receiving  a  month's  pay  in  advance.  With  the 
King  in  an  excitable  condition  from  his  own  barbarities, 
and  perhaps  also  from  alarm  at  the  possible  consequences 
of  his  defiance  of  the  Resident's  remonstrances,  some 
display  of  military  strength  on  the  British  frontier  was 
necessary  to  maintain  peace  within  our  own  territory, 
and  to  support  the  Resident  in  his  critical  position. 
This  measure  secured  its  immediate  objects,  and  put  a 
stop  to  massacres  for  the  time  being.  The  military 
preparations  brought  home  to  the  minds  of  the  Court 
party  that  it  had  now  become  less  a  question  of  their 
attacking  the  British,  than  of  the  British  proceeding 
against  Mandalay.  They  could  not  disguise  their  un- 
easiness, and  earnestly  requested  that  the  reinforcements 
might   be   withdrawn.       Throughout   both    Lower   and 



^  Upper  Burma  it  was  everywhere  believed  that  the 
Government  of  India  were  contemplating  some  early  and 
decisive  change  in  their  policy  of  reserve  and  precaution,  i 

Simultaneously  with  these  military  preparations  the' 
Government  of  India  impressed  on  the  Secretary  of 
State  the  necessity  of  taking  an  early  occasion  for  con- 
veying to  King  Thibaw  a  clear  exposition  of  their  views 
and  expectations  with  regard  to  a  revision  of  treaty 
arrangements,  to  the  improvement  of  existing  com- 
mercial and  political  relations,  to  the  settlement  of  pending 
differences  and  grievances,  and  to  a  change  in  his  policy 
towards  the  British.  !  But  the  British  Government 
decided,  early  in  April,  1879,  that  the  grievances  which 
had  been  tolerated  from  Mindon  had  not  yet  been 
aggravated  by  King  Thibaw,  and  that  the  time  for  such 
a  decided  intimation  of  policy  as  the  Government  of 
India  desired  would  not  be  well  chosen  while  the  young 
King  was  surrounded  by  the  worst  of  counsellors.  Con- 
sequently no  ultimatum  was  sent,  and  the  Resident 
remained  at  his  post  in  Mandalay. 

This  tone  of  extreme  forbearance  on  the  part  of  the 
British  Cabinet  would  seem  astoundingly  weak  if  the 
circumstances  of  the  spring  of  1879  were  not  borne  in 
mind.  The  Afghan  war  had  been  entered  on  in 
November,  1878,  and  the  Zulu  war  had  commenced  in 
January,  1879,  with  disaster  to  British  troops  at  Isan- 
dhlwana  on  the  22nd  of  that  month.  On  Major-General 
Knox  Gore,  then  in  military  command  of  Burma,  being 
asked  if  he  were  prepared  to  march  on  Mandalay  with 
the  troops  under  him,  he  replied  to  the  effect  that  he 
would  guarantee  to  take  Mandalay  with  500  men,  but 
that  he  would  require  5,000  more  than  the  recent  rein- 
forcements of  the  Burma  garrison  to  enable  him  to 
pacify  Upper  Burma  when  once  he  had  possessed  him- 
self of  the  capital.  This  settled  the  matter.  Troops 
could  not  possibly  be  spared  ;  they  were  wanted  badly 
both  in  South  Africa  and  in  Afghanistan.  Hence  the 
British  Government's  rejection  of  the  stronger  policy 
advocated  by  the  Government  of  India. 

Looking  back  now,  with  the  knowledge  of  subsequent 
events,  there  is  much  reason  for  congratulation  at  the 



turn  events  took.  The  Zulu  war  continued  till  Cete- 
wayo's  total  defeat  and  capture  in  July,  1880;  and  the 
Afghan  war  was  only  brought  to  an  end  late  in  the  same 
year,  after  a  serious  reverse  had  been  sustained  by  the 
British  arms  at  Maiwand  in  July,  1880.  The  experiences 
from  1886  to  1890  in  Upper  Burma  make  it  extremely 
improbable  that  General  Knox  Gore's  estimate  of  the 
strength  required  to  pacify  the  country  after  the  fall  of 
the  capital  would  have  been  sufficient ;  and  it  would 
have  been  a  matter  of  rather  serious  difficulty  to  provide 
large  numbers  of  trained  British  troops  for  Burma,  in 
addition  to  the  special  demands  of  South  Africa  and 
Afghanistan.  Moreover,  if  war  had  then  been  waged 
against  Upper  Burma,  it  would  only  have  been  for  the 
purpose  of  deposing  Thibaw  and  placing  the  Nyaung- 
yan  Prince  on  the  throne  in  his  stead  ;  whereas  the 
ultimate  annexation  of  Ava  on  ist  January,  1886, 
completely  settled  all  political  and  commercial  grievances, 
and  added  to  the  British  Empire  in  India  vast  territories 
rich  in  material  wealth,  and  far  richer  still  in  future 

The  respite  thus  given  to  Thibaw,  and  the  tidings  of 
reverse  to  the  British  troops  in  Zululand,  stimulated  him 
and  his  ignorant  advisers  to  further  acts  of  discourtesy 
and  injustice  to  the  British,  despite  a  certain  feeling  of 
disquietude  at  the  maintenance  of  military  preparations 
along  the  British  frontier.  In  the  middle  of  April  a 
fracas  took  place  at  Sinbyugyun  on  board  the  Irra- 
waddy  Flotilla  Company's  steamer  Shinsawbu,  owing  to 
the  local  coolies  insisting  on  piling  loads  of  Ngdpi,  or  fish 
pickled  with  salt,  a  favourite  condiment  having  a  vile 
smell,  on  the  bedding  and  luggage  of  the  passengers,  and 
then  belabouring  these  latter  with  bamboos  and  billets  of 
firewood  on  their  objecting  to  their  personal  effects  being 
thus  defiled.  When  the  Commander  tried  to  cause  the 
combatants  to  separate  by  ordering  the  mooring-line  to 
be  cast  off",  the  coolies  on  shore  prevented  his  order  being 
carried  out ;  and  when  this  interference  was  circumvented 
by  cutting  the  hawser  on  board  the  steamer,  the  irate 
coolies  seized  the  Company's  lascars,  who  were  discharging 
salt  from  a  flat  near  by  which  had  been  left  by  a  previous 



steamer.  This  was  apparently  done  under  the  direction 
of  an  official  mounted  on  a  pony.  About  the  same  time 
another  of  the  Company's  steamers  had  to  cast  off  sud- 
denly from  Myingyan,  without  completing  the  landing  of 
her  cargo,  on  account  of  the  violence  of  the  coolies.  To- 
wards the  end  of  May  the  Assistant- Resident  at  Manda- 
lay,  Mr.  Phayre,  whilst  returning  from  an  early  morning 
ride,  was  jeered  at  and  reviled  with  insulting  terms  when 
passing  a  group  of  young  Burmese,  although  he  was 
attended  by  a  small  retinue  bearing  the  usual  large  um- 
brella and  fan  forming  the  customary  insignia  of  an 
official,  and  by  two  of  the  police  guard  furnished  by  the 
Burmese  Government.  Treatment  of  this  sort  had  be- 
come not  unusual,  but  it  was  often  difficult  to  ascertain 
the  offender;  and  in  this  case  the  Minister  was  asked  to 
see  that  suitable  punishment  should  be  given  to  put  a 
stop  to  such  conduct.  These  were  all  very  trifling  and 
petty  matters  in  themselves,  but  they  distinctly  showed 
the  drift  of  popular  opinion  throughout  the  capital  of  the 
country  as  a  reflection  of  the  attitude  of  the  Court  and 
the  feelings  which  were  known  to  exist  there. 

Barbarities  at  the  same  time  were  again  inflicted  on  the 
remaining  political  prisoners  within  the  palace.  The 
mother  and  the  sister  of  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  were 
loaded  with  irons  and  placed  in  closer  confinement  within 
a  cell  bricked  upon  all  sides  with  the  exception  of  a  hole 
just  big  enough  to  admit  a  man.  Here  they  were  im- 
prisoned along  with  three  other  ex-Queens  at  a  time  of 
the  year  when  the  thermometer  usually  registers  about 
105°  in  the  shade  during  the  daytime.  They  existed  on 
alms  of  money  sent  secretly  from  the  Residency  ;  but  the 
go-between  becoming  alarmed  and  fleeing  to  Rangoon,  the 
prisoners  became  dependent  on  doles  of  food  sent  to  them 
by  one  of  the  Queen-mothers.  Orders  were  issued  for 
their  execution,  but  they  were  saved  by  the  joint  interces- 
sion of  the  mothers  of  the  King  and  the  Queen,  prompted 
thereto  by  the  Prime  Minister,  the  Kinwun  Mingyi. 
Some  Princesses  who  endeavoured  to  escape  by  boat  into 
Lower  Burma  were  caught  not  far  from  the  frontier,  and 
were  at  once  thrown  into  the  river  and  drowned. 

Whilst  matters  were  still  in  a  state  of  extreme  tension 


the  British  Resident  at  Mandalay,  Mr.  R.  B.  Shaw,  died 
on  the  15th  June,  1879,  and  his  duties  were  taken  tem- 
porarily by  Colonel  Horace  Browne,  Commissioner  of 
Peo-u,  who  was  sent  up  to  Mandalay  on  deputation.  As 
it  was  feared  that  the  formal  appointment  of  a  successor 
to  Mr.  Shaw  would  be  misconstrued  and  taken  as  a  sign 
that  the  British  were  content  to  let  both  commercial  and 
political  matters  drift  on  as  they  had  been  doing,  and 
might  be  misinterpreted  into  a  condonation  of  the  disre- 
o-ard  shown  to  the  remonstrances  made  regarding  the 
massacres  in  Mandalay,  the  Government  of  India  deter- 
mined not  to  fill  the  vacancy  thus  caused.  It  was  con- 
sidered that  Mr.  St.  Barbe,  a  junior  civil  servant  then 
acting  as  political  agent  at  Bhamo,  would  be  quite  com- 
petent to  transact  ordinary  business  with  the  Burmese 
officials  upon  the  footing  to  which  the  intercourse  between 
the  Residency  and  the  Ministers  had  now  been  reduced. 
On  29th  August,  Colonel  Browne  accordingly  left  Manda- 
lay, leaving  Mr.  St.  Barbe  as  Chargi  d'affaires,  with  Mr. 
Phayre  as  Assistant  Resident.  Out  of  regard  for  the 
safety  of  those  he  was  leaving  behind  him.  Colonel 
Browne  refrained  from  saying  or  doing  anything  prior  to 
leaving  which  might  be  likely  to  arouse  hostility  within 
the  Court.  No  notice  of  his  departure  was  taken  by  the 
Burmese  authorities,  although  he  had  given  them  five 
days'  informal  and  three  days'  formal  notice  of  his  in- 
tention to  leave. 

On  the  4th  September,  1879,  Sir  Louis  Cavagnari,  the 
English  Envoy  to  Cabul,  was  murdered ;  and  the 
Government  of  India  naturally  became  apprehensive  of 
the  safety  of  their  representatives  in  Upper  Burma. 
Authority  was  therefore  promptly  given  to  the  Chief 
Commissioner  of  Burma  to  withdraw  the  whole  Mandalay 
agency  and  escort  whenever  he  should  consider  this  step 
advisable,  or  when  any  suitable  opportunity  occurred ; 
but  it  was  pointed  out  that  this  should  not  be  done  in  any 
manner  liable  to  misinterpretation  as  hasty  or  unnecessary. 
Apart  from  considerations  regarding  the  welfare  of 
Messrs.  St.  Barbe  and  Phayre,  the  withdrawal  of  Brit- 
ish representatives  from  Mandalay  was  viewed  by  the 
Government  of  India  with  no  reluctance;  for  relations 



with  the  Court  of  Ava  had  latterly  been  such  as  to  leave 
little  hope  of  advantage,  and  much  risk  of  disadvantage, 
from  maintaining  the  Residency  at  Mandalay.  By  a 
strange  coincidence  these  last  representatives  of  British 
diplomacy  at  Mandalay  were  unfortunately  the  first  two 
civilians  to  lose  their  lives  in  the  operations  after  the 
annexation  in  1886— Mr.  St.  Barbe  (March,  1886)  while 
attacking  dacoits  in  the  Bassein  district  (Lower  Burma), 
and  Mr.  Phayre  (June,  1886)  while  operating  against  Bo 
Shwe  in  the  Minhla  jungles. 

Meanwhile  rumours  grew  rife  in  Mandalay  of  con- 
spiracies in  favour  of  the  Nyaungyan  Prince,  who  was 
reported  to  be  on  the  point  of  coming  to  Upper  Burma. 
Large  numbers  of  men  and  women  were  arrested  in  con- 
nexion with  these  supposed  plots,  and  some  were  put  to 
death.  The  pay  of  troops  was  now  in  arrears,  and  it 
was  feared  that  advantage  of  the  discontent  among  the 
soldiery  might  be  taken  by  the  Taingda  Mingy i  to  over- 
throw the  Prime  Minister's  party,  which  alone  restrained 
the  King  and  his  bloodthirsty  crew  from  massacring  the 
inhabitants  of  the  Residency.  On  several  occasions  in 
1879  designs  had  been  deliberately  formed  and  prelimi- 
nary preparations  made  with  this  object ;  and  it  was 
mainly  due  to  the  still  existing  authority  of  the  Prime 
Minister  that  such  designs  had  not  actually  been  carried 
out.  The  Government  of  India  therefore  ordered  the 
withdrawal  of  the  officers,  escort,  and  records  from  the 
Residency.  „  Notice  thereof  was  duly  given  to  the  Bur- 
mese Ministers  and  to  all  Europeans  and  British  subjects 
residing  in  Mandalay  or  in  Bhamo ;  and  the  withdrawal 
was  quietly  effected  on  7th  October,  1879,  without  the 
occurrence  of  any  untoward  incident.'/ 

The  first  move  of  the  Burmese  Government  after  this 
was  to  despatch  an  Ambassador  on  23rd  October  with  a 
letter  and  presents  to  the  Viceroy  of  India.  On  arrival 
at  the  British  frontier  station  of  Thayetmyo,  the  Embassy 
was  detained  to  ascertain  its  objects  and  the  rank  and 
powers  of  the  Ambassador.  As  the  inquiries  regarding 
these  points  proved  unsatisfactory,  the  Envoy  was  in- 
formed that  the  Government  of  India  were  not  disposed, 
under  existing  circumstances,  to  receive  a  mission  of  cere- 

49  E 


mony,  with  nothing  more  than  mere  formal  assurances  of 
friendship  from  the  King  of  Ava.  The  Envoy  was  after- 
wards duly  empowered  to  discuss  preliminaries  for  a  new 
Treaty,  but  the  proposals  were  entirely  inadequate.  He 
had  consequently  to  be  informed  that,  unless  more  sub- 
stantial overtures  could  be  expected,  his  remaining  indefi- 
nitely at  Thayetmyo  was  inconvenient  and  generally  unde- 
sirable. After  being  hospitably  entertained  as  a  guest 
for  more  than  six  months  at  Thayetmyo  without  making 
any  reasonable  proposals  for  adjusting  differences,  he  at 
length  returned  to  Mandalay.  But,  before  doing  so,  he 
sent  to  the  Chief  Commissioner  of  Burma  a  letter  which 
was  so  improper  both  in  tone  and  in  matter  that  it  was 
returned  to  him. 

The  frontier  districts  of  Thayetmyo  and  Toungoo,  with 
their  strong  garrisons,  remained  quiet  and  tranquil ;  but 
emissaries  from  Upper  Burma  began  to  sow  the  seeds  of 
sedition  among  some  of  the  Lower  Burmese  township 
officials,  more  particularly  in  the  western  districts  of  the 
Irrawaddy  delta,  from  Danubyu  to  Bassein,  which  had 
always  remained  rather  disaffected  ever  since  their  an- 
nexation in  1853.  The  workshops  of  Mandalay  were 
busy  with  the  manufacture  of  rifles  and  torpedoes,  while 
further  troops  were  raised  and  fortifications  erected  near 
Minhla.  Within  the  palace  massacres  still  continued 
from  time  to  time  with  unabated  cruelty.  Five  sisters 
of  the  Thongze  Prince,  the  eldest  of  the  Princes  murdered 
on  15th  February,  1879,  were  executed,  nominally  for 
being  in  correspondence  with  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  in 
Calcutta,  but  really  because  they  had  incurred  the 
jealousy  of  the  chief  Queen  Supayalat.  Supayagyi,  her 
elder  sister  and  nominal  chief  Queen,  became  involved 
in  an  attempt  to  poison  Thibaw  and  Supayalat,  which 
cost  not  only  her  own  life  but  also  the  lives  of  two 
Punnas  or  Manipuri  Brahmans,  a  sect  much  venerated 
as  soothsayers,  and  of  their  three  Burmese  attendants. 
The  palace  had  in  fact  become  a  pandemonium. 

On  13th  November,  1879,  a  fracas  and  riotous  as- 
sault took  place  on  board  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla  Com- 
pany's stGSimQr  S/iwe7nyo  at  Myingyan.  Similar  in  nature 
to  those  which  had  in  April  occurred  here  and  at  Sin- 



byugyun,  it  was,  however,  more  serious  in  degree,  and 
the  Government  of  India  demanded  adequate  redress 
and  punishment  of  offenders  on  account  of  infringement 
of  the  protection  provided  for  British  subjects  under  the 
existing  commercial  Treaties  of  1862  and  1867.  FaiHng 
satisfaction  within  a  reasonable  time,  they  urged  the  de- 
nouncement of  these  Treaties  ;  but,  before  taking  such  a 
step,  they  desired  to  know  the  decision  of  the  British 
Government  as  to  the  future  measures  which  might  be 
adopted.  With  their  hands  full  in  South  Africa  and 
Afghanistan,  it  was  almost  a  foregone  conclusion  that  the 
British  Cabinet  should  temporize ;  hence  they  questioned 
the  expediency  of  denouncing  the  treaties,  and  requested 
first  of  all  to  be  informed  how  the  Burmese  Government 
replied  to  the  demand  for  redress.  After  an  interval  of 
over  three  months  the  reply  came  from  Mandalay  in  the 
form  of  a  curt  intimation  that  the  case  had  been  decided 
by  the  Governor  of  Myingyan  to  the  satisfaction  of 
both  parties,  and  that  under  such  circumstances  it  was 
not  the  custom  to  try  petty  cases  afresh.  The  main 
points  at  issue  were  absolutely  ignored.  But  Mr.  Glad- 
stone's Cabinet  had  taken  office  on  28th  April,  1880; 
and  their  policy  was  peace  at  any  price.  The  Govern- 
ment of  India  could  not  push  matters  without  the  consent 
and  approval  of  the  British  Government.  They  did  what 
they  could  in  a  despatch  dated  ist  June,  1880,  which 
contained  the  following  very  emphatic  statement  of  their 
position,  and  of  the  policy  they  urged  : 

"  All  further  proceedings  upon  the  Burmese  Minister's  letter  are 
necessarily  stayed  until  Her  Majesty's  Government  shall  have  con- 
sidered it ;  and,  in  submitting  the  papers  for  orders,  we  may  observe 
that,  unless  the  Government  of  India  are  eventually  authorized  to  deal 
with  the  case  as  an  infringement  of  treaty,  it  must,  in  our  opinion,  be 
silently  dropped.  But  we  consider  that  such  a  conclusion  would  be 
very  prejudicial  to  the  honour  and  interests  of  the  British  Government, 
and  that  the  reasons  upon  which  we  determined  that  a  demand  must 
be  made  now  prevail  manifestly  with  redoubled  strength  on  the  side  of 
prosecuting  it  to  some  distant  issue,  or  at  least  to  some  understanding 
in  regard  to  the  future.  .  .  .  We  still  adhere  to  the  view  that  the 
affair  cannot  be  creditably  passed  over ;  while  we  still  desire  to  point 
out  to  Her  Majesty's  Government  that  a  plain,  reasonable,  and  advan- 
tageous course  of  action  can  be  found  in  the  procedure  which  .  .  . 
we  had  the  honour  to  recommend  to  Her  Majesty's  Government.     It 



may  be  that  the  original  affair  is  not,  of  itself,  sufficiently  important  to 
form  the  basis  for  a  dissolution  of  our  commercial  engagements ;  but 
we  wish  to  represent,  what  in  previous  despatches  has  already  been 
brought  to  the  notice  of  Her  Majesty's  Government,  that  ever  since  the 
accession  to  the  throne  of  the  present  King  the  attitude  of  his  Govern- 
ment towards  us  has  been  one  of  open  unfriendliness  and  of  frequent 
disregard  of  treaty  obligations.  And  since  we  have  every  reason  to 
apprehend,  from  long  experience  of  the  conduct  and  character  ot  the 
Burmese  Government,  from  the  recent  behaviour  in  particular  ot  the 
King  and  his  Ministers,  and  from  the  fact  of  our  having  no  representa- 
tive at  Mandalay  for  the  protection  of  British  subjects,  that  the  Bur- 
mese Government  cannot  safely  be  encouraged  either  in  discourtesy  to 
our  Government  or  in  disregard  to  their  engagements,  we  are  most  re- 
luctant to  leave  this  reply  without  some  substantial  rejoinder. 

"We  desire,  therefore,  permission  from  Her  Majesty's  Government 
to  inform  the  Mandalay  Court  that  the  answer  given  to  our  demand  is 
considered  unsatisfactory,  both  in  tone  and  substance ;  that  the  case  is 
regarded  as  affecting  our  treaty  relations;  and  that,  having  regard  to  the 
whole  state  of  our  present  relations  with  the  King,  we  consider  that  the 
honour  and  interests  of  the  British  Government  require  us  to  withdraw 
altogether  from  our  existing  engagements  with  Upper  Burma.  We  pro- 
pose, however,  ...  to  allow  the  Burmese  Government  an  oppor- 
tunity of  fully  considering  the  consequences  that  will  follow  our  demand 
for  redress." 

While  this  despatch  was  being  prepared  in  Simla,  the 
British  mail  steamer  Yunnan  was,  early  on  26th  May, 
forcibly  seized  and  detained  by  the  Governor  of  Sale- 
myo,  the  starting-gear  being  unshipped  and  an  armed 
guard  of  twenty  men  placed  on  board  the  ship.  On  the 
evening  of  the  following  day  the  starting-gear  was  re- 
turned and  the  guard  withdrawn.  Demands  were  made, 
in  the  least  exacting  manner  possible,  for  an  explanation 
of  the  affair ;  but  the  reply  from  the  Court  of  Ava  was  so 
evasive  and  unsatisfactory  as  to  preclude  any  prospect  of 
advantage  from  further  correspondence  on  the  subject. 
It  was  not  until  after  receiving  further  information  that 
the  Secretary  of  State  (Lord  Hartington)  in  September 
intimated  to  the  Viceroy  (Lord  Lytton)  the  reluctant  ap- 
proval of  the  British  Government  in  the  words  that  they 
were  '' not  prepared  to  dissent  fro7n  tite  course^'  which 
had  been  adopted  by  the  Government  of  India.  This 
cold  consent,  far  from  amounting  to  even  lukewarm  ap- 
proval, was  accompanied  with  the  intimation  that  the 
Secretary  of  State  "  was  in  the  first  instance  disposed  to 
doubt  whether  the  absolute  rejection  of  the  Burmese  over- 



tures,  resultiiig  in  the  return  of  the  Embassy  to  its  own 
country,  was  altogether  jitdiciousr 

Using  the  outrage  on  the  Ytmnan  and  the  Burmese 
treatment  of  the  demand  for  redress  as  a  suitable  oppor- 
tunity for  once  more  urging  their  poHcy,  the  Government 
of  India,  on  9th  November,  1880,  again  asked  for  the 
authority  of  Her  Majesty's  Government  to  denounce  the 
commercial  Treaties  of  1862  and  1867;  and  in  reply 
thereto  the  Secretary  of  State  could  only  "  express  the 
7'egret  of  Her  Majesty  s  Govern7nent  that,  after  full  de- 
liberation, they  feel  unable  at  present  to  accord  their 
sanction  to  it.  .  .  .  They  do  not  gather  that  trade  has, 
as  yet,  been  materially  prejudiced  by  any  action  of  the 
Burmese  Government,  or  that  any  political  question  of 
urgency  is  pending  at  Mandalay.  hi  these  circumstances 
Her  Majesty  s  Govermnefit  consider  that  the  attitude  of 
forbearance  lately  observed  towards  the  King  may  be  main- 
tained for  the  present,  and  that  the  Government  of  India 
should  be  slow  to  precipitate  a  crisis  by  measures  of  which 
neither  the  political  nor  commercial  effect  can  be  estimated 
with  certainty^  This  definitely  settled  the  matter  for 
the  time  being ;  for  it  was  clear  that  the  reasonable  re- 
quirements of  the  Government  of  India  as  to  commercial 
protection  for  British  subjects  and  suitable  reception  and 
treatment  of  a  Resident  at  Mandalay  could  only  be 
secured  in  the  event  of  Britain  being  prepared  to  enforce 
these  demands  at  the  point  of  the  bayonet. 

The  Zulu  war  closed  in  the  summer  of  1880,  and  the 
Afghan  war  in  the  autumn  of  the  same  year  ;  but,  before 
the  year  1880  closed,  Britain  had  again  become  em- 
broiled in  warfare  in  South  Africa  through  a  rebellion  of 
the  Boers  in  the  Transvaal,  which  had  been  annexed  in 
April,  1877.  The  short  campaign  which  followed  was 
disastrous,  the  British  arms  sustaining  three  several  de- 
feats before  peace  was  concluded  on  22nd  March,  1881, 
on  an  armistice  proposed  by  the  Boers.  It  was  a  humili- 
ating instance  of  the  impotence  of  Great  Britain  at  the 
moment ;  but  the  Boers  of  the  Transvaal  and  Mr.  Glad- 
stone's Cabinet  saved  King  Thibaw,  and  maintained  him 
on  the  throne  from  which  he  was  five  years  later  to  fall 
with  such  a  crash. 


chapter    III 


THE  incidents  narrated  in  the  latter  portion  of  the 
previous  chapter  may  be  summarized  in  a  few- 
words  as  an  introduction  to  the  trend  of  affairs  gradually 
leading  to  the  third  Burmese  wat.  After  the  withdrawal 
of  the  British  mission  from  Mandalay  in  October,  1879, 
the  attitude  of  King  Thibaw's  Government  grew  more 
hostile.  Unprovoked  attacks  were  twice  made  upon 
British  mail  steamers  on  the  Irrawaddy  river,  and  de- 
mands for  redress  were  replied  to  in  so  curt  and  dis- 
courteous a  manner,  that  the  Government  of  India 
recommended  the  renunciation  of  all  treaty  engagements 
with  the  Court  of  Ava.  The  British  Cabinet,  however, 
already  embroiled  in  an  inglorious  war  with  the  Boers  of 
the  Transvaal  within  a  few  months  of  the  conclusion  of 
the  Zulu  and  the  Afghan  wars,  were  unable  to  accept  the 
policy  urged  by  the  Government  of  India,  and  deprecated 
the  precipitation  of  a  crisis  by  means  of  which  neither  the 
political  nor  the  commercial  effect  could  be  accurately 
gauged.  Meanwhile  the  relations  between  the  Govern- 
ments of  India  and  Ava  were  at  a  deadlock.  Upper 
Burma  became  completely  disorganized,  bands  of  armed 
robbers  roaming  about  at  will  and  raiding  at  times  into 
British  territory,  and  fresh  atrocities  occurring  within  the 
King's  palace. 

In  the  spring  of  1882  an  Envoy  from  the  Court  of 
Ava,  bearing  proposals  for  a  new  treaty,  was  permitted 
to  proceed  to  Simla.  Notwithstanding  the  occurrences 
which  had  characterized  the  proceedings  of  an  abortive 
mission  that  remained  at  the  frontier  of  British  Burma 



for  over  six  months  in  1880,  without  being  able  to  make 
suitable  proposals  as  a  basis  for  negotiations,  a  most 
friendly  reception  was  accorded  to  the  Embassy  by  the 
Viceroy,  Lord  Ripon,  while  the  utmost  trouble  and  pains 
were  taken  to  brine  the  neg^otiations  to  a  successful  and 
satisfactory  issue.  But  the  expectations  thus  raised  of  a 
renewal  of  friendly  intercourse  between  the  two  Powers 
were  frustrated  by  King  Thibaw  suddenly  recalling  his 

Commercial  progress  was  retarded  and  trade  inter- 
course interfered  with  by  the  King  following  the  policy 
of  his  predecessor  in  the  matter  of  creating  monopolies. 
During  the  year  1881-82  the  value  of  the  international 
traffic  fell  off  greatly  from  this  cause,  but  it  recovered 
again  when  the  monopolies  were  restricted  in  compli- 
ance with  representations  made  by  the  Government  of 
India.  In  other  matters  also  the  attitude  assumed  by 
the  Burmese  Government  continued  to  be  unmistakably 
unfriendly,  and  even  menacing.  The  hostility  gradually 
became  more  marked,  and  it  was  stimulated  by  the  in- 
trigues and  machinations  of  foreign  agents. 

This  policy  of  hostility  in  May,  1883,  led  the  Court  of 
Ava  to  despatch  a  mission  to  Europe,  ostensibly  with  the 
object  of  gathering  information  relating  to  industrial  arts 
and  sciences,  but  in  reality  for  the  purpose  of  seeking 
alliances  with  foreign  powers  and  of  arranging  political 
and  commercial  agreements  which  could  not  but  conflict 
very  seriously  with  established  British  interests,  and 
which  could  only  lead  to  the  encouragement  of  intoler- 
able intrigues  on  the  part  of  the  foreign  agents  in  Man- 
dalay.  So  long  as  the  kingdom  of  Ava  occupied  an 
isolated  position,  its  overt  unfriendliness  could  be  borne 
with  extreme  forbearance  by  the  Government  of  India  ; 
but  when  once  the  external  policy  of  the  Burmese 
Government  began  to  exhibit  symptoms  of  desiring  to 
prosecute  designs  which,  if  permitted  with  impunity, 
would  result  in  the  establishment  of  preponderating 
foreign  influence  at  the  Court  of  Ava  and  throughout  the 
upper  valley  of  the  Irrawaddy,  it  became  impossible  for 
the  British  Cabinet  any  longer  to  view  the  situation  with- 
out anxiety. 



While  other  European  Powers  held  aloof  and  did  not 
seek  to  mix  themselves  up  with  the  affairs  of  Burma  the 
absence  of  a  British  Minister  in  Mandalay,  though  mcon- 
venient,  was  not  attended  with  any  very  material  disad- 
vantao-e.  But  there  were  French  agents,  whose  machma- 
tions  and  intrigues  chiefly  required  to  be  guarded  agamst. 
Already  the  stormy  petrels  of  French  diplomacy  were  m 
Mandalay  inaugurating  the  policy  of  ''pinpricks"  agamst 
Britain,  which  was  in  turn  followed  in  Upper  Burma, 
then  on  the  Niger,  and  again  at  Fashoda. 

The  Embassy  thus  deputed  to  Europe  for  about  a  year 
to  visit  the  principal  countries  and  cities  on  the  Continent, 
remained  there  till  the  end  of  April,  1885,  by  which  time 
it  had  concluded  treaties  with  France,  Germany,  and 
Italy.  The  Ambassador  was  an  Atwinwun,  or  Minister 
of  the  Secret  Department  of  the  Court,  who  knew  no 
language  other  than  Burmese;  but  the  other  members 
of  the  Embassy  consisted  of  a  Wtmdauk,  or  Assistant 
Minister,  and  a  Sayddawgyi,  or  Clerk  of  the  Great  State 
Council,  both  of  whom  had  been  educated  in  Europe 
under  the  orders  of  King  Mindon,  and  were  conversant 
with  English  and  French.  They  had  also  been  among 
the  members  of  the  Embassy  which  visited  Simla  in  1882. 
It  was  further  accompanied  by  a  French  gentleman  named 
M.  de  Trevelec. 

It  will  be  recollected  (see  p.  38  in  previous  chapter) 
that  a  treaty  had  been  made  by  Burma  with  France  on 
24th  January,  1873,  which  had  never  been  ratified,  owing 
to  the  French  Agent  sent  to  Burma  for  this  purpose 
taking  upon  himself  the  responsibility  of  entering  into  a 
fresh  treaty,  in  1874,  of  so  objectionable  a  nature  that  pro- 
mises were  given  by  France  to  the  British  Government 
that  the  latter  would  not  be  ratified.  On  the  arrival  of 
the  Burmese  Embassy  at  Paris,  in  1883,  they  desired  to 
renew  negotiations  regarding  the  unratified  commercial 
Treaty  of  1873,  and  gave  out  that  they  intended  staying 
only  about  a  month.  Political  subjects  were  not  yet,  so 
far  as  was  known,  under  discussion,  although  excuses  for 
broaching  them  lay  close  to  hand.     In  April,  1883,  the 

Myingun  Prince — who,  after  rebelling  in  1866,  killing  his 

uncle,  the    selected  heir  apparent   to    the  throne,  and 



nearlysucceeding  in  assassinating  his  father,  King  Mindon, 
had  fled  to  Lower  Burma,  and  had  since  then  been  a 
pensioner  of  the  Government  of  India — escaped  from 
Benares  (in  Lower  Bengal),  where  he  was  hving  under 
surveillance,  and  sought  an  asylum  in  the  French  settle- 
ment of  Chandernagore.  Here  he  remained  for  a  couple  of 
months,  declining  all  the  overtures  made  to  induce  him  to 
return  to  British  protection,  and  hoping  to  utilize  French 
territory  as  a  base  for  operations  against  the  Government  of 
Upper  Burma.  In  the  absence  of  the  Nyaungyan  Prince, 
who  was  still  living  under  the  protection  of  the  British, 
he  was  convinced  that  if  once  he  could  effect  a  landing  in 
Upper  Burma  his  endeavours  to  overthrow  Thibaw  and 
seat  himself  on  the  throne  would  secure  many  adherents. 
In  June,  1884,  he  contrived  to  elude  the  vigilance  of  the 
police  ordered  to  secure  him  if  he  should  leave  the  French 
settlement,  and  to  make  his  way  on  a  French  steamer  to 
Colombo.  He  was  promptly  returned  in  the  same  ship 
to  Pondicherry,  where  he  was  detained  under  the  super- 
vision of  the  Governor-General  of  the  French  Settle- 
ments in  India. 

But  the  Burmese  Embassy  stayed  on  month  after 
month  in  Paris,  apparently  disregardful  of  the  study  of 
the  industrial  arts  and  sciences  forming  the  professed 
primary  object  of  their  mission.  In  the  diplomatic  con- 
versations held  during  the  summer  and  autumn  of  1883 
between  Lord  Lyons,  the  British  Ambassador,  and  MM. 
Challemel  Lacour  and  Jules  Ferry,  the  French  Ministers 
for  Foreign  Affairs,  no  opportunities  were  lost  of  impress- 
ing upon  the  French  Government  the  objections  enter- 
tained by  the  British  Cabinet  to  the  conclusion  of  any 
agreement  with  King  Thibaw  containing  stipulations 
beyond  those  of  a  purely  commercial  nature  ;  and  it  was 
understood  that  the  British  authorities  desired  that  facili- 
ties should  not  be  given  to  the  Burmese  for  the  purchase 
of  arms.  It  was  also  particularly  pointed  out  that  in 
consequence  of  its  geographical  position  with  regard  to 
British  India,  and  of  its  political  relations  therewith. 
Upper  Burma  occupied  a  peculiar  position,  giving  the 
British  Government  a  special  interest  in  all  that  con- 
cerned the  kingdom  of  Ava.     To  France  the  affairs  of 


that  country  could  only  be  of  secondary  interest,  whereas 
to  Britain  they  were  of  the  utmost  concern,  and,  indeed, 
of  vital  importance. 

^  As  the  year  1883  was  nearing  its  close.  Lord  Lyons 
had  again  to  make  particular  mention  of  the  subject  of 
the  Burmese  Mission  in  Paris.  It  was  pointed  out  that 
they  had  presented  no  credentials  to  the  President  of  the 
Republic,  or  that  at  any  rate  no  intimation  of  their  having 
had  a  formal  audience  had  been  notified  in  the  Journal 
Officiel,  and  that  they  had  not,  as  was  customary,  called 
upon  the  British  Ambassador  or  the  other  members  of 
the  diplomatic  body,  although  they  were  admittedly  in 
direct  communication  with  the  Commercial  Division  of 
the  French  Foreign  Office,  and  were  believed  to  be 
negotiating  a  treaty  of  some  kind.  M.  Jules  Ferry 
replied  that  the  Mission  had  submitted  various  proposals 
regarding  commercial  matters,  but  that  no  progress  had 
been  made,  as  the  Envoy  had  apparently  not  sufficient 
powers  to  treat  seriously,  and  that  consequently,  in  the 
meantime,  no  arrangements  at  all  with  Burma  would  be 
concluded  at  Paris. 

This  was,  however,  mere  diplomatic  fencing  and 
equivocation.  In  April,  1884,  the  assurance  was  given 
by  M.  Ferry  that  any  treaties  or  conventions  resulting 
from  the  negotiations  would  be  of  an  entirely  commercial 
or  consular  character,  and  that  no  facilities  would  be 
given  to  the  Burmese  for  obtaining  arms.  The  Bur- 
mese Ambassador  was  particularly  anxious  to  obtain  a 
clause  authorizing  the  free  passage  of  arms  into  Upper 
Burma  ;  but  the  French  Government  were  absolutely 
determined  not  to  agree  thereto,  as  they  were  by  no 
means  disposed  to  facilitate  the  introduction  of  arms  into 
Tonquin.  In  May,  1884,  M.  Ferry  was  again  informed 
that  the  British  Government  would  naturally  entertain 
the  most  serious  objections  to  any  special  alliance  or 
political  understanding  between  Upper  Burma  and  any 
other  foreign  Power.  The  notice  of  the  Foreign 
Minister  (Lord  Granville)  was  at  the  same  time  brought 
to  the  fact  that  the  Franco-Burmese  Treaty  of  1873, 
which  it  was  now  for  the  first  time  contemplated  to  brino- 
into  operation,  provided  for  a  reciprocal  appointment  of 



diplomatic  agents  of  the  two  Governments.  Endeavours 
were  consequently  made  to  obtain  from  the  French 
Government  a  definite  promise  that  the  functions  of  any- 
such  agents  who  might  be  appointed  would  be  only  of  a 
commercial  and  not  in  any  sense  of  a  political  character. 
Such  a  promise  would  only  have  been  in  harmony  with 
the  friendly  assurances  previously  given  by  M.  Ferry. 

In  the  course  of  an  interview  in  July,  1884,  during 
which  Lord  Lyons  handed  to  M.  Ferry  a  paper //'^  me- 
moridy  embodying  the  position  taken  up  by  the  British 
Government,  the  French  Foreign  Minister  observed 
that  it  was  very  difficult  to  draw  any  distinct  line  between 
commercial  and  political  functions.  He  thought  it  likely 
a  French  Consul-General,  or  some  agent  of  that  kind, 
would  be  stationed  in  Mandalay  ;  but  whatever  might  be 
his  title,  he  must  of  course  in  practice  have  charge  of 
French  interests  in  general.  Reference  was  also  made  to 
France  and  Burma  becoming  neighbours  towards  Ton- 
quin.  On  Lord  Lyons  pointing  out  that  the  kingdom  of 
Ava  could  not  be  a  neighbour  to  France  in  any  sense  at 
all  resembling  that  in  which  it  was  a  neighbour  to  British 
India,  M.  Ferry  then  asked  if  any  special  treaties  between 
Britain  and  Upper  Burma  precluded  the  latter  from 
entering  into  independent  political  relations  with  other 
Powers.  The  obvious  reply  was  at  once  made  that,  as 
British  interests  preponderated  so  vastly  in  Upper  Bur- 
ma, the  British  Cabinet  relied  on  all  friendly  Powers 
abstaining  from  seeking  any  political  alliance  with  Upper 
Burma.  About  a  week  after  the  note  pro  memorid  had 
been  handed  in.  Lord  Lyons  reminded  M.  Ferry  of  the 
assurances  desired  by  the  British  Government,  and  was 
informed  that  the  projected  Treaty  contained  a  stipulation 
that  each  party  was  free  to  accredit  diplomatic  and  con- 
sular officers  to  the  other.  The  present  intention  of  the 
French  Government  was  to  station  only  a  Consul  at  Man- 
dalay ;  but  the  title  given  to  such  agent,  would,  after  all, 
be  a  matter  of  litde  consequence  as,  whatever  title  he 
bore,  he  would  have  to  deal  with  general  questions 
between  the  two  countries;  and  it  was  impossible  to  draw 
an  exact  line  between  political  and  commercial  functions. 
For  example,  there  might  be  question  of  voisinage  re- 



garding-  territories  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Mekong  river, 
over  which  the  King  of  Ava  claimed  suzerain  rights 
without  exercising  practical  authority. 

It  was  admitted  by  M.  Ferry  that  the  Burmese  desired 
a  political  alliance  with  France  and  asked  particularly  for 
facilities  for  procuring  arms,  but  he  declared  that  the 
French  Government  had  no  intention  of  forming  with 
Upper  Burma  any  alliance  whatever  of  a  special  char- 
acter ;  and  a  distinct  assurance  was  given  to  this  effect. 

Trouble  had  meanwhile  been  brewing  on  the  British 
boundary  between  Manipur  and  Upper  Burma.  In  con- 
sequence of  certain  disturbances  which  had  occurred  on 
this  frontier,  and  of  doubts  regarding  jurisdiction  which 
had  arisen  through  the  omission  to  demarcate  precisely 
the  frontier  line  between  Manipur  and  Upper  Burma  as 
described  in  the  Kubo  Valley  Agreement  of  1834,  the 
Government  of  India,  early  in  1881,  determined  to  depute 
a  Commission  to  mark  out  the  frontier  boundary.  When 
informed  of  this  intention  and  invited  to  depute  represen- 
tatives to  be  present  at  the  demarcation,  the  Court  of  Ava 
intimated  their  opinion  that  fresh  demarcation  of  the 
boundary  determined  in  1834  was  unnecessary.  The 
reasons  rendering  necessary  the  precise  demarcation  of 
the  frontier  line  were  explained,  and  the  Ava  Government 
were  again  invited  to  co-operate.  Failing  this,  they  were 
asked  to  instruct  the  local  officers  to  give  reasonable  assist- 
ance to  the  demarcating  party,  which  would  reach 
Sumjok,  near  the  frontier,  about  20th  November,  1881. 
In  October,  the  Ava  Government  reiterated  their  opinion 
that  demarcation  was  unnecessary,  and  intimated  that 
they  would  neither  agree  to  nor  abide  by  any  demarca- 
tion which  the  British  Government  might  persist  in 
making.  In  November,  the  Foreign  Minister  of  Ava 
was  informed  that  the  proposed  demarcation  would  be 
carried  out  and  that  the  British  Government  would  ex- 
pect the  boundary  line  thus  laid  down  to  be  respected  by 
the  chiefs  and  the  people  on  both  sides,  to  which  commu- 
nication he  replied  by  intimating  that  he  adhered  to  what 
he  had  already  said  in  his  letter  of  October. 

The  demarcation  of  the  actual  frontier  line  was  carried 
out  by  the  British  Commission  under  Colonel  Johnstone, 



no  representative  af  the  Court  of  Ava  being  present.  As 
it  was  ascertained  that  certain  villages  hitherto  supposed 
to  be  in  Burmese  territory  were  actually  on  the  Manipur 
side,  the  local  Burmese  authorities  were  requested  to  with- 
draw an  armed  post  stationed  at  one  of  these  villages. 
The  work  of  the  Commission  was  approved  by  the  Gov- 
ernment of  India  and  the  British  Government. 

In  February,  1882,  the  Foreign  Minister  of  Ava  inti- 
mated to  the  Governor  of  India  that  the  local  Burmese 
authorities  had  been  directed  to  destroy  the  boundary 
marks  and  to  station  Burmese  officials  on  the  spot  for  the 
protection  of  Burmese  subjects.  In  reply  hereto  the 
Government  of  India  expressed  a  hope  that  the  intention 
of  demolishing  the  boundary  marks  would  not  be  carried 
out,  as  the  consequences  might  be  very  serious;  and  the 
suggestion  was  made  that  the  matter  might  be  left  for  dis- 
cussion with  the  Envoy,  then  on  the  point  of  visiting 
Simla.  While  at  Simla,  the  Burmese  Ambassador  was  in 
August  furnished  with  maps  and  records  of  the  boundary, 
and  was  informed  that  the  Government  of  India  in- 
tended to  maintain  the  boundary  and  to  prevent  inter- 
ference with  the  boundary  marks  or  encroachment  beyond 
the  frontier  line. 

During  1883  it  was  asserted  by  the  Court  of  Ava  that 
the  Kongkal  (Kaungkan)  British  outpost  had  been  pushed 
into  Burmese  territory,  and  that  men  sent  to  examine  the 
boundary  line  had  not  been  permitted  to  reach  the  frontier. 
Both  of  these  statements  were  incorrect.  The  Ava  Gov- 
ernment were  informed  that  there  was  no  objection  to  an 
examination  of  the  frontier  line  being  made,  provided  the 
boundary  was  not  crossed  or  disturbed  ;  and  it  was  asked 
that,  if  such  a  party  were  to  be  sent,  intimation  thereof 
might  be  previously  given. 

About  a  year  after  this,  in  May,  1884,  another  letter 
was  received  from  the  Foreign  Minister  of  Ava  expressing 
astonishment  at  the  boundary  line  demarcated  by  Colonel 
Johnstone  being  referred  to  as  binding  between  the  two 
Governments.  Objections  were  raised  to  it,  and  it  was 
again  threatened  that  the  boundary  marks  and  the  Kong- 
kal outpost  would  be  destroyed  if  the  British  Govern- 
ment omitted  or  delayed  to  comply  with  the  request  for 


their  removal.  The  obvious  reply  to  this  threat  was  a 
solemn  warning  to  the  Ava  Government  to  reconsider 
their  decision  ;  otherwise,  it  any  such  demolition  or  en- 
croachment took  place  under  their  orders,  the  consequen- 
ces might  be  very  serious.  This  was  almost  an  exact 
repetition  of  the  warning  given  to  them  early  in  1882. 

It  was  not  anticipated  by  the  Government  of  India  that 
the  Burmese  Government  would  act  in  defiance  of  this 
warning  and  attempt  to  carry  their  threats  into  execution  ; 
but  as  a  precautionary  measure  the  Chief  Commissioner  of 
Assam  was  authorized  to  direct  the  Maharaja  of  Manipur 
to  resist  the  destruction  or  removal  of  the  boundary  marks, 
and  for  this  purpose  a  detachment  of  native  infantry  was 
to  be  sent  to  support  him,  if  necessary.  That  was  the 
last  of  this  direct  insult  to  the  Government  of  India,  whose 
prompt  and  decisive  action  was  approved  by  the  British 

During  January,  1885,  after  the  lapse  of  about  six 
months  since  the  last  exchange  of  opinions,  Lord  Lyons 
had  again  to  bring  the  subject  of  the  negotiations  of  the 
Burmese  Embassy  into  diplomatic  conversation  with  M. 
Jules  Ferry,  the  French  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs,  and 
to  ask  what  was  the  state  of  his  relations  with  the  so- 
called  Burmese  Ambassadors.  On  being  vaguely  in- 
formed that  the  negotiation  "  n  avail  pas  encore  aboutil' 
the  British  representative  had  again  to  urge  the  views  ex- 
pressed in  \ki^ pro  meniorid  of  the  previous  July,  when  he 
was  met  by  the  statement  that,  as  France  was  now  also 
a  neighbour  of  Upper  Burma,  it  might  be  necessary  to 
make  treaty  arrangements  with  regard  to  the  frontier. 
The  position  thus  taken  up  by  France  was  most  decidedly 
unfriendly  ;  and  it  was  pointed  out  that,  while  the  Indian 
Government  had  full  means  of  bringing  the  Burmese 
to  a  sense  of  their  obligations  and  their  proper  position,  it 
would  be  very  painful  and  very  inconvenient  that  a  question 
of  resorting  to  those  means  should  be  raised  by  a  treaty  be- 
tween Burma  and  France.  A  few  days  later  M.Jules  Ferry 
informed  Lord  Lyons  that  the  Treaty  which  had  been  for 
over  eighteen  months  in  negotiation  at  Paris,  between  the 
French  Government  and  the  Burmese  Embassy  had  at 
length  been  signed  on  15th  January,  1885,  but  that  this 



Treaty  did  not  contain  any  political  or  military  stipulations. 
It  was  merely,  he  said,  one  of  the  common  treaties  stipu- 
lating for  rights  of  residence,  intercourse,  commerce,  most- 
favoured-nation treatment,  and  so  forth.  It  was  added 
that  a  French  Consul  would  now  be  sent  to  Mandalay, 
but  that  the  question  of  obtaining  consular  jurisdiction 
over  Frenchmen  in  Ava  was  still  unsettled. 

The  duplicity  and  the  covert  hostility  of  France  were, 
however,  afterwards  apparent  in  a  letter,  also  dated  15th 
January,  1885,  which  came  from  Mandalay  into  the  hands 
of  the  Chief  Commissioner  of  British  Burma  towards  the 
end  of  July,  1885.  It  was  from  the  French  Prime  Min- 
ister to  the  Burmese  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs  and  con- 
tained the  following  passage  :^  "  With  respect  to  transport 
through  the  province  of  Tonquin  to  Burma,  of  arms  of 
various  kinds,  ammunition  and  military  stores  generally, 
amicable  arrans^ements  will  be  come  to  with  the  Burmese 
Government  for  the  passage  of  the  same  when  peace  and 
order  prevail  in  Tonquin,  and  the  officers  stationed  there 
are  satisfied  that  it  is  proper,  and  that  there  is  no  danger y 
This  episode  cannot  be  explained  away  ;  it  showed  de- 
liberate perfidy,  and  entire  disregard  of  national  honour 
and  good  faith  by  France  towards  Great  Britain. 

There  is  no  necessity  for  considering  this  Franco- 
Burmese  Treaty  in  detail.  It  is  sufficient  to  remark  that, 
diplomatic  pourparlers  in  Europe  and  acts  in  Burma 
being  duly  considered  in  their  mutual  relations,  unmis- 
takable indications  were  not  wanting  that  King  Thi- 
baw's  Government  were  bent  upon  welcoming  to  the 
upper  valley  of  the  Irrawaddy  river  foreign  influence  in 
such  manner  as,  if  allowed  to  become  established  and 
dominant,  could  not  fail  at  some  future  time  to  trouble 
the  political  tranquillity  of  British  Burma,  and  to  engender 
complications  extending  beyond  the  British  frontier. 
The  law  of  the  Senate  and  the  Chamber  of  Deputies 
authorizing  the  President  of  the  French  Republic  to 
ratify  the  Franco- Burmese  Convention  of  15th  January, 
1885,  was  not  passed  till  the  24th  November,  1885.  It 
was  published  in  the  Journal  Officiel  of  26th  November, 

^  Vide  p.  170  of  the  Parliamentary  Blue-Book,  on  Correspondence  re- 
lating to  Biirmah  [C — 4614],  1886. 


the  very  day  on  which  the  Burmese  Ministers  were 
begging  an  armistice  from  the  British  General  off  Ava. 
It  mayt  however,  be  further  remarked  that  this  Franco- 
Burmese  Treaty  and  the  somewhat  unfriendly  attitude 
displayed  during  its  negotiation  by  the  French  Govern- 
ment rendered  absolutely  impossible,  on  the  conclusion 
of  the  third  Burmese  war,  any  question  of  deposing  King 
Thibaw  in  favour  of  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  or  of  enthron- 
ing any  other  scion  of  the  royal  house  of  Alaung  Paya 
This  first  deep  "  pinprick  "  by  France,  and  the  intrigues 
of  M.  Haas,  who  reached  Mandalay  in  May,  1885,  as 
Consul  of  France,  though  not  the  actual  castts  belli,  may 
therefore  be  looked  upon  as  the  direct  and  chief  cause 
of  the  annexation  of  Upper  Burma  to  the  British  Indian 
Empire,  and  of  the  extinction  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava. 
An  international  treaty  existing  between  France  and  Ava 
would  have  been  binding  on  a  King  Nyaungyan  ;  but 
its  operation  ceased,  ipso  facto,  when  Upper  Burma  be- 
came part  of  the  British  Empire.  Annexation,  under 
these  circumstances,  was  the  only  way  of  completely 
removing  possible  causes  of  friction  between  France  and 
Britain  in  this  particular  matter. 

Having  effected  their  object  with  France  after  a  year 
and  a  half's  residence  in  Paris,  the  Burmese  Embassy 
had  now  at  length  leisure  to  think  of  the  courtesy  of 
calling  upon  the  British  Ambassador  in  Paris.  They 
were  received  on  4th  February,  when  they  intimated  their 
intention  of  proceeding  shortly  to  Rome,  and  then  re- 
turning to  Burma.  Thoroughly  aware  of  their  previous 
extreme  discourtesy  in  not  having  observed  diplomatic 
etiquette,  they  first  of  all  asked  the  Italian  Ambassador 
at  Paris,  General  Menabrea,  to  ascertain  if  Lord  Lyons 
would  be  willing  to  receive  their  visit. 

At  Rome  the  Embassy  delayed  longer  than  they 
appeared  to  have  anticipated,  their  stay  there  being 
utilized  in  endeavours  to  negotiate  a  convention  with 
Italy  on  similar  terms  to  the  new  Franco- Burmese 
Treaty.  A  treaty  already  existed  between  Burma  and 
Italy,  but  it  had  been  loosely  drawn  up  by  a  naval 
officer,  and  did  not  contain  the  usual  most-favoured- 
nation  clause.      The    Italian   Government   declined   to 



enter  into  negotiations  till  they  had  been  assured  that 
satisfaction  had  been  given  to  the  claims  of  two  Italian 
subjects  employed  by  the  Ava  Government,  and  whose 
salaries  had  remained  unpaid  for  the  last  two  years. 
The  Burmese  Embassy  was  hurriedly  recalled  in  April, 
without  any  convention  with  Italy  being  agreed  to  ;  but 
the  Italian  Government  fully  acknowledged  the  impos- 
sibility of  the  British  allowing  the  transit  of  arms  through 
British  Burma,  which  was  forbidden  by  treaty.  The 
only  result  of  the  Envoy's  stay  in  Rome  was  the  conclu- 
sion of  a  treaty  with  the  German  Government,  negotiated 
by  Baron  von  Kendell,  and  signed  on  the  14th  May.  It 
simply  secured  for  Germany  the  treatment  of  the  most 
favoured  nation,  and  entered  into  no  details.  There  was 
nothing  in  it  which  could  clash  with  the  precautionary 
measures  taken  against  the  importation  of  arms  through 
British  Burma. 

■^^  For  all  the  three  countries  chiefly  concerned  there 
were  storm-clouds  above  the  political  horizon  in  1884 
and  1885.  For  Britain,  there  had  been  very  strained 
relations  with  Russia  over  the  Panjdeh  incident,  and  the 
crisis  of  1885  was  the  turning-point.  As  the  result  of 
the  Afghan  Boundary  Commission,  a  line  was  drawn 
beyond  which  Russian  aggression  would  inevitably  form 
a  casus  belli,  whatever  might  be  the  political  complexion 
of  the  British  Cabinet  in  power.  On  26th  January,  1885, 
Khartoum  fell,  and  General  Gordon  was  killed  ;  on  24th 
June  the  Gladstonian  Cabinet  was  replaced  by  one 
formed  by  Lord  Salisbury.  France,  still  with  her  hands 
sufficiently  full  in  Tonquin,  had  undertaken  a  war  with 
China  which  was  terminated  in  April,  1885,  about  a  week 
after  the  fall  of  the  Ferry  Cabinet.  But  it  was  over  the 
kingdom  of  Ava  that  the  storm-clouds  lowered  darkest. 

King  Thibaw's  misrule  had  become  so  great  and 
dacoity  so  prevalent  by  the  end  of  1883,  that  large 
numbers  of  Upper  Burmese  crossed  the  frontier  to  obtain 
the  advantages  of  British  protection.  Early  in  1884  it 
was  estimated  that,  within  a  few  months,  about  a  quarter 
of  a  million  people  had  thus  flocked  into  Lower  Burma, 
while  the  stream  of  emigration  was  only  checked  by 
detaining,  as  hostages,  the  wives  and  children  of  men 

65  F 


who   went   down    into    British    territory    for   temporary 
employment.     The  kingdom  of  Ava  had  at  this   time 
sunk  to  a  condition  of  anarchy,  and    King   Thibaw  did 
not  dare  venture  beyond  the  inner  enclosure  of  his  palace, 
where  he  was,  to  all  practical  intents,  a  prisoner.     The 
greater  part  of  the  feudatory  Shan  States,  forming  nearly 
the  half  of  the  eastern  portion  of  the  kingdom,  had  been 
for  about  three  years  in  open  rebellion.     In  March,  1884, 
a  serious  revolt  had  also  taken   place  in   the  northern 
districts  peopled  by  the  Kachin  hill  tribes,  which  carried 
fire  and  sword  half  way  down  to  Mandalay.     This  rising 
subsided  during  the  rainy  months,  but  was  expected  to 
make  head  again  during  the  open  season  commencing 
with  November.     In  addition  to  this,  rumours  were  cur- 
rent in  Mandalay  that  the  Myingun  Prince  had  escaped 
from  French  surveillance  in  Pondicherry,  and  made  his 
way  to  Bangkok,  the  capital  of  Siam,  whence  he  intended 
to  accomplish  Thibaw's  downfall,  with  the  assistance  of 
the  rebellious  Sawbwa  of  the  Shan  States.     It  was  even 
suspected  that  the  scheme  originated  with  some  of  the 
Ministers,  who  were  disgusted  with  the  existing  state  of 
affairs.     The  jails  in  and  near  the  palace  were  at  this 
time  filled  with    dacoits  as  well  as  political    prisoners. 
Headed  by  the  infamous  Taingda  Mingyi,  certain  of  the 
Ministers  went  and  told  the  King  they  believed  some  of 
the  bad  characters   in  the  jail  were  conspiring  against 
him,  and  they  advised  him  to  execute  them,  in  order  to 
prevent   their   escaping   and  joining   the   cause   of  the 
Myingun    Prince.      Some   of  the   prisoners  were  insti- 
gated to  make  an  attempt  to  escape,  and  the  jailer  was 
authorized  to  liberate  certain  of  them.     As  soon  as  this 
order  was  carried  out,  on   22nd  September,    1884,  the 
jail-guard  was  called  upon  to  quell   the  outbreak,   the 
Taingda  Mingyi  and  other  Ministers  and   officials   ap- 
peared at^  the  head  of  troops  from  the  palace,  and  the 
work  of  indiscriminate   massacre   began.     Orders  were 
given  by  the  Taingda  to  set  fire  to  the  jail,  and  a  con- 
tinuous fire  of  musketry  was  kept  up  from  the  house  of 
his  son-in-law,  the  Governor  of  the  South  Gate,  on  the 
prisoners  as  they  flocked  out  of  the  prison  to  escape  from 
the  flames.     Those  who  managed  to  get  outside  the  jail 



were  pursued  and  slaughtered  in  the  streets  of  the  city, 
the  gates  being  closed  to  prevent  their  escape  beyond 
the  city  walls.  The  slaughter  was  not  merely  confined 
to  the  prison  within  the  inner  palace,  to  which  fire  was 
set,  but  was  likewise  extended  to  the  other  two  prisons 
situated  without  the  inner  enclosure.  Thibaw,  alarmed 
and  excited,  directed  that  all  political  prisoners  were  to 
be  killed,  and  that  all  who  rebelled  against  his  authority 
were  to  be  immediately  executed  ;  while  orders  were 
given  to  the  rural  Governors  that  all  the  prisoners  con- 
fined in  the  district  jails  should  be  sent  to  Mandalay. 

The  number  of  men,  women  and  children  thus  brutally 
massacred  on  the  22nd  and  following  days  is  estimated 
to  have  been  between  200  and  300  in  all.  On  the  day 
after  the  chief  massacre,  the  corpses  were  carted  out  of 
the  city,  and  were  exposed  for  some  days  in  the  burial 
ground  to  the  west.  Here  they  remained,  mutilated, 
putrefying,  and  uncovered  with  earth,  to  show  how 
terrible  a  thing  it  was  to  incur  the  royal  displeasure. 
Hands  and  legs  were  hacked  off  to  loosen  the  prison 
irons,  before  the  putrefying  bodies  were  thrown,  in  heaps 
of  four  or  five  together,  into  shallow  graves  and  given 
an  insufficient  covering  of  about  a  foot  of  earth.  While 
these  atrocities  were  being  perpetrated,  and  whilst  pigs 
and  pariah  dogs  unearthed  the  corpses  and  battened  on 
the  loathsome  feast  thus  plentifully  provided  for  them 
by  the  inhumanity  of  the  King,  his  consort,  and  his 
Ministers,  high  festival  was  being  held  within  the  palace. 
Theatrical  performances  were  given  continuously  nio-ht 
after  night ;  boats,  containing  musicians,  were  moored 
along  the  banks  of  the  river ;  the  King's  steamers  plied 
between  Mandalay  and  Sagaing,  taking  passengers  free 
of  charge ;  and  everything  was  done  to  distract  the 
attention  of  the  people  from  the  awful  horrors  that  were 
being  perpetrated  round  about  them. 

There  is  good  reason  for  supposing  that  this  wholesale 
massacre  was  instigated  by  the  Taingda  Mingyi  and 
a  few  of  the  other  Ministers,  in  order  to  save  themselves 
from  the  consequences  that  might  ensue  if  some  of  their 
followers,  then  in  jail,  should  obtain  their  freedom  by  the 
disclosure  of  facts  implicating  these  high  officials  in  the 



dacoities  and  intrigues  which  they  had  long  been  carrying 
on.  The  ringleader  of  those  who  were  instigated  to 
attempt  their  escape,  and  who  were,  therefore,  the  first 
to  be  shot  down,  was  a  dacoit  Bo,  or  chief,  named 
Yan  Min,  an  infamous  robber,  whose  hands  had  often 
been  stained  with  the  blood  of  murdered  victinis.  When 
captured  some  time  previously,  he  had  been  liberated  in 
order  to  go  and  fight  against  the  rebellious  Shan  chiefs  ; 
but,  instead  of  doing  this,  he  again  began  plundering,  and 
continued  pillaging  until  his  recapture  was  effected. 

A  public  meeting  was  held  in  Rangoon  on  the  nth 
October,  when  feelings  of  indignation  were  expressed, 
and  resolutions  passed  memorializing  the  Government 
of  India  to  interfere  immediately  in  Upper  Burma,  and 
either  annex  the  kingdom  of  Ava  or  constitute  it  a  pro- 
tected State  under  some  other  ruler  than  Thibaw.  As 
grounds  for  this  removal  were  urged  the  misery  and  dis- 
tress caused  by  King  Thibaw's  misgovernment  and  the 
mutual  interdependence  of  Upper  and  Lower  Burma  as 
regarded  tranquillity  and  property.  But  trade  returns 
showed  that,  notwithstanding  King  Thibaw's  misgovern- 
ment, the  value  of  the  total  trade  between  British  Burma 
and  Ava  for  the  four  years  after  Thibaw's  accession 
was,  despite  the  previously  mentioned  fall  in  1881-82, 
when  his  monopolies  were  in  force,  considerably  greater 
than  during  the  last  four  years  of  Mindon's  reign,  the 
average  annual  values  being  respectively  £'^,22^,Z\^ 
and  23,061,174. 

In  October,  1884,  the  Rangoon  Chamber  of  Com- 
merce had  also  memorialized  to  the  same  effect  as  the 
public  meeting,  urging  either  annexation  or  a  change  of 
king,  the  former  for  choice  ;  and  undoubtedly  trade  had 
for  the  moment  become  paralysed.  At  the  time  of  the 
public  meeting  being  held  handbills  in  Burmese  were 
posted  and  distributed  throughout  Rangoon,  describing 
King  Thibaw  as  an  inveterate  drunkard  and  a  monster 
of  cruelty,  and  declaring  it  was  necessary  to  call  upon 
the  British  Government  to  annex  Ava.  Native  mer- 
chants and  traders  fell  into  a  state  of  panic,  and  trade 
naturally  became  stagnant  until  it  was  known  definitely 
what  line  of  policy  the  Government  of  India  intended  to 



pursue.  But  it  was  obviously  not  in  accordance  with 
modern  ideas  of  international  relations  to  interfere  with 
the  internal  government  of  a  neighbouring  country,  or 
to  annex  that  country  merely  because  commerce  there- 
with was  not  increasing  so  rapidly  as  British  Chambers 
of  Commerce  might  wish. 

To  a  certain  extent  the  British  Government  were  un- 
doubtedly responsible  for  the  existing  state  of  affairs. 
Had  it  not  been  for  the  preventive  measures  taken  by 
them,  Thibaw  would  have  before  this  time  been  de- 
posed in  favour  of  either  the  Ngaungyan  or  the  Myin- 
gun  Prince.  But  King  Thibaw  was  an  ally  of  the 
British.  Though  he  had  not  proved  a  friendly  ally,  yet 
he  kept  to  the  Treaty  existing  between  the  two  nations. 
The  character  and  antecedents  of  his  Government  were 
such  that  it  was  not  possible  for  the  British  Govern- 
ment to  offer  any  assistance  which  might  seat  him  more 
firmly  on  his  unstable  throne;  but,  at  the  same  time, 
neither  the  atrocities  which  had  marked  his  reign,  both 
shortly  after  his  accession  and  also  quite  recently,  nor 
the  internal  condition  of  anarchy  and  misgovernment 
within  his  realm,  seemed  to  justify  the  armed  interven- 
tion of  the  British  Government  with  a  view  of  either 
annexing  the  kingdom  of  Ava  or  of  reducing  it  to  the 
level  of  a  feudatory  State,  nominally  governed  by  the 
Nyaungyan  or  the  Myingun  Prince. 

While  these  matters  were  still  receiving  the  considera- 
tion of  the  Governor  of  India,  the  town  of  Bhamo, 
situated  about  200  miles  north  of  Mandalay  and  the  cen- 
tre of  trade  with  Western  China,  was  captured  and  sacked 
by  Chinese  marauders  on  8th  December,  1884.  Fortu- 
nately there  was  no  reason  to  believe  that  this  seizure 
was  instigated  by  the  Chinese  Government,  as  this  would 
have  introduced  a  still  further  complication  into  the  al- 
ready existing  tangle  of  affairs.  Under  any  circumstances, 
however,  it  meant  the  strangulation  of  the  trade  between 
Rangoon  and  Bhamo  until  the  country  around  the  latter 
town  was  once  more  in  a  settled  state.  Between  Man- 
dalay and  the  frontier  the  country  was  overrun  with 
numerous  and  powerful  bands  of  dacoits.  No  troops 
could  be  sent  against  them,  as  all  the  rabble  soldiery 



was  required  for  the  operations  towards  Bhamo.  The 
Governor  of  Mao^we  was  murdered  by  one  gang,  while 
the  Governor  of  Saldmyo  was  attacked  in  open  court  by 
another,  and  narrowly  escaped  with  his  life.  To  avoid 
attacks  and  international  questions  the  commanders  of 
the  British  mail  steamers  were  desired  by  rural  Governors 
to  anchor  their  vessels  in  the  river  under  steani  at  night, 
in  place  of  following  the  usual  course  of  mooring  along- 
side the  bank. 

Of  all  these  various  matters  the  Government  of  India 
had  full  cognizance.  They  were  also  aware  of  the  sensi- 
ble alteration  which  the  conclusion  of  the  Franco- Burmese 
Treaty  of  15  th  January,  1885,  made  in  the  political  situa- 
tion, and  they  could  not  but  be  apprehensive  that  the 
presence  of  M.  Haas  as  Consul  of  France  at  Mandalay 
was  likely  to  increase  their  difficulties  in  dealing  with  the 
Court  of  Ava.  Hence  they  were  of  opinion  that  some- 
thing should  be  done  to  restore  British  influence  at 

The  situation  was  surrounded  with  difficulties,  the 
satisfactory  solution  of  which  was  far  from  easy.  It  was 
not  considered  desirable  to  insist  upon  the  reception  of  a 
British  agent  at  Mandalay.  After  the  withdrawal  of 
Mr.  St.  Barbc  in  1879,  the  Burmese  Government  were 
informed  that  any  overtures  for  revision  of  existing  re- 
lations, or  for  the  return  of  a  political  officer,  must  pro- 
ceed from  them.  And  if,  despite  the  altered  circumstan- 
ces, negotiations  with  either  or  both  of  these  objects  had 
been  opened  by  the  Government  of  India,  this  would 
have  amounted  to  a  cancellation  of  their  intimation  of 
1879,  and  might  easily  have  been  misconstrued  in  Man- 
dalay as  a  sign  of  timidity  or  even  of  actual  weakness 
on  the  part  of  the  Government  of  India.  It  could  hardly 
be  anticipated  that  a  British  agent  would  be  suitably 
received  and  properly  treated  save  under  pressure  of  an 
authoritative  demand  supported  by  a  display  of  armed 
force,  for  action  of  which  nature  the  season  was  inoppor- 
tune. Again,  if  any  secret  political  alliance,  involving 
ulterior  designs  inconsistent  with  British  interests,  had 
been  concluded  between  France  and  Ava,  the  reception 
and  courteous  treatment  of  a   British  agent,  while  not 



necessarily  re-establishing  British  influence,  would  have 
the  effect  of  embarrassing  the  British  position  if  more 
direct  measures  of  interference  became  unavoidable. 
Under  these  circumstances  the  Government  of  India 
were  unable  to  recommend  to  the  British  Cabinet  any 
specific  course  of  action.  They  could  only  watch  the 
affairs  of  Ava  with  special  care  and  anxiety,  in  the  hope 
that  before  long  some  satisfactory  solution  of  the  diffi- 
culty might  present  itself.  And  such  did  present  itself 
most  opportunely  and  satisfactorily  within  less  than  six 
months  from  the  time  when  this  resolution  of  the  Govern- 
ment of  India  was  taken  in  March,  1885.  So  desirous 
were  the  Government  of  India  to  avoid  irritating  the 
susceptibilities  of  King  Thibaw  and  his  Ministers  that 
they  did  not  even  send  any  letter  of  remonstrance  re- 
garding the  September  massacres  as  was  proposed  by 
Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  Charles)  Bernard,  the  Chief  Com- 
missioner of  Burma.  There  was  no  proof  that  British 
subjects  were  sufferers  in  the  course  of  the  barbarities ; 
and  it  was  thought  doubtful  that  a  letter  of  protest 
would  have  any  useful  result,  even  if  it  pointed  out  that, 
by  keeping  away  from  Burma  other  claimants  to  the 
throne  of  Ava,  the  Government  of  India  were  assisting 
in  maintaining  Thibaw  in  undisturbed  possession  of  the 

The  declaration  of  this  policy  of  non-interference  for 
the  present  created  much  discontent  in  commercial  cir- 
cles, and  the  Rangoon  Chamber  of  Commerce  addressed 
a  circular  letter  to  the  various  Chambers  of  Commerce  in 
Great  Britain,  practically  desiring  them  to  bring  pressure 
to  bear  on  the  British  Cabinet.  British  Burma's  geogra- 
phical position,  its  ethnological  conditions,  its  natural 
wealth,  and  the  undeniable  fact  that  public  works  and 
internal  development  were  starved  owing  to  more  than 
one-third  of  the  revenue  raised  in  Burma  being  appro- 
priated by  India,  were  all  used  as  arguments  for  cutting 
British  Burma  adrift  from  the  Indian  Empire  and  con- 
stituting it  a  Crown  colony.  Their  appeal  closed  with 
the  words  : — 

"Were  British   Burma  a  colony   independent  of   India,   not    only 



would  much  more  have  been  done  by  this  time  to  develop  its  own 
resources,  but  a  firmer  policy  in  connexion  with  the  petty  kings  be- 
yond British  territory  would  have  done  much  to  extend  British  trade 
through  a  large  part  of  Indo-China,  and  have  made  Rangoon  one  of  the 
largest  trade  centres  in  the  world." 

This  agitation  for  the  constitution  of  British  Burma  as 
a  Crown  colony  would  undoubtedly  have  been  pushed 
with  vigour  but  for  the  favourable  trend  affairs  took 
later  on  in  the  year   1885. 

The  British  Government,  while  concurring  in  the 
opinion  that  the  state  of  affairs  in  Ava  did  not  justify 
armed  intervention,  considered  that,  both  for  commer- 
cial and  political  reasons,  diplomatic  representations 
should  be  resumed  at  Mandalay.  Under  the  Yandabu 
Treaty  of  1826,  the  Court  of  Ava  were  bound  to  receive 
a  British  Resident  with  an  armed  escort  of  fifty  men  ; 
and  they  were  not  cognizant  of  any  communication  hav- 
ing been  made  in  1879  which  need  act  as  a  bar  to  the 
adoption  of  this  measure  whenever  convenient.  But  the 
time  and  the  manner  of  resuming  direct  representation 
were  left  to  the  discretion  of  the  Government  of  India. 

The  apprehensions  entertained  as  to  the  activity  of 
the  French  Consul  at  Mandalay  in  obtaining  ^'concessions'^ 
of  various  sorts,  and  in  generally  creating  a  commercial 
and  political  position  for  France  quite  incompatible  with 
the  previously  existing  predominating  British  interests, 
were  almost  immediately  verified.  Before  the  arrival  of 
M.  Haas,  the  Consul  of  France  appointed  to  Mandalay 
in  charge  of  French  interests  at  the  Court  of  Ava,  a 
French  engineer,  M.  Bonvillein,  was  reported  to  be 
negotiating  for  a  lease  of  the  whole  of  the  ruby  mines 
at  Mogok  and  Kyatpyin  for  fifteen  years  at  an  annual 
rental  of  three  lacs  of  rupees  (^20,000  a  year).  But 
the  endeavours  of  Lord  Lyons  to  obtain  authentic 
information  regarding  this  reported  concession  were  un- 

M.  Haas,  who  reached  Mandalay  in  May,  1885,  had 
not  been  there  a  couple  of  months  before  abundant  evi- 
dence was  forthcoming  of  the  strong  position  which 
he  and  other  French  agents  were  endeavouring  to  estab- 
lish for  themselves  with  a  view  to  acquiring  a  predomi- 



nant  influence  in  Ava,  which  might  be  utilized  at  some 
future  time  in  joining  hands  with  the  French  possessions 
on  the  upper  reaches  of  the  Red  River.  His  first  efforts 
were  towards  the  establishment  of  a  French  bank,  hav- 
ing a  capital  of  twenty-five  million  francs,  the  running 
of  a  French  flotilla  on  the  Irrawaddy,  the  working  of 
the  ruby  mines,  and  the  opening  out  of  a  trade  route 
from  Mandalay  through  the  Shan  States  to  Upper  Ton- 
quin.  His  main  idea  was  to  grant  loans  to  the  King  and 
in  return  therefor  to  obtain  industrial  concessions,  on  the 
ground  that,  even  if  Britain  should  ultimately  be  driven 
to  annex  the  country,  actual  concessions  to  French  sub- 
jects would  be  respected.  In  pursuance  of  this  policy 
he  urged  upon  the  Court  of  Ava  the  necessity  of  avoid- 
ing any  collision  with  the  British  Government ;  and  he 
also  advised  them  to  ask  for  a  Resident,  as  otherwise 
they  ran  great  risk  of  having  one  forced  upon  them  on 
terms  they  would  not  like.  This  temporizing  was  de- 
clined in  favour  of  a  continuation  of  the  policy  of  pro- 
crastination, for  the  more  wilful  and  ignorant  among  the 
King's  advisers  believed  that  if  the  tension  with  Russia 
had  led  to  actual  war  the  British  would  have  lost  India, 
and  the  kingdom  of  Ava  would  once  more  have  extended 
to  the  sea-coast  skirting  the  Bay  of  Bengal.  It  was  the 
intention  of  the  Burmese  Government  that,  if  the  British 
had  at  this  time  their  hands  full  of  troubles,  the  oppor- 
tunity would  have  been  taken  to  pick  a  quarrel  with 
them.  M.  Haas  pointed  out  the  folly  of  such  a  course 
before  the  Court  of  Ava  had  strengthened  their  position 
by  forming  alliances  with  other  European  nations.  He 
pressed  the  Ministers  to  profit  by  the  present  attitude  of 
the  Government  of  India  towards  Ava  informing  treaties 
with  France,  Italy,  and  Germany,  and  to  get  each  of 
these  countries  to  proclaim  Ava  as  neutral  territory. 
In  pursuance  of  this  astute  advice  the  Pangyet  Wun- 
dauk,  one  of  the  Ministers  of  the  State  Council  who 
spoke  French  fluently,  was  accordingly  despatched  once 
more  to  Europe  during  the  second  half  of  July,  1885. 

Finding  the  Ministers  reluctant  to  follow  his  views, 
M.  Haas,  early  in  July,  endeavoured  to  work  upon  the 
King  through   the    Thdthandbaing,   or  Buddhist   Arch- 



bishop,  who  had  frequent  personal  interviews  with 
Thibaw  for  enumerating  the  advantages  to  be  derived 
from  a  close  and  intimate  alliance  with  France.  M.  Haas 
offered  to  work  with  the  Burmese  Ministers  in  organ- 
izing the  finances  and  the  general  administration  of  the 
country,  promised  the  maintenance  of  the  integrity  of 
Ava,  and  gave  assurances  that  when  Tonquin  became 
tranquil  the  Burmese  would  have  free  passage  for  any- 
thing they  required. 

So  far  as  concerned  preliminary  contracts  for  conces- 
sions of  a  valuable  nature,  M.  Haas'  machinations  were 
successful.  By  the  middle  of  July  terms  of  contracts  for 
the  construction  of  a  French  railway  in  Upper  Burma, 
and  for  the  establishment  of  a  bank  in  Ava,  had  been 
arranged,  and  the  preliminary  contracts  already  signed 
and  completed  in  Mandalay,  and  before  the  end  of  the 
month  they  were  being  taken  by  the  Pangyet  Wundauk, 
or  "chief  of  the  glassboilers,"  then  accredited  as  Am- 
bassador Plenipotentiary  to  reside  permanently  in  Paris, 
for  formal  completion  by  the  French  Government.  The 
first  contract  related  to  the  construction  of  a  railway  from 
Mandalay  to  the  British  frontier  of  Toungoo — to  the 
chief  town  in  which  district  a  line  had  just  then  been 
opened  from  Rangoon — at  the  joint  expense  of  the 
French  Government  and  of  a  company  to  be  formed  for 
the  purpose.  The  capital  was  to  be  about  ^2,500,000, 
and  the  line  was  to  be  completed  within  seven  years.  The 
concession  was  to  last  for  seventy  years,  when  the  line  was 
to  become  the  property  of  the  Burmese  Government. 
Interest  on  the  capital  outlay  was  meanwhile  to  be  at  the 
rate  of  7 J-  per  cent,  and  its  payment  was  to  be  secured 
by  the  hypothecation  of  the  river  customs  and  the  earth- 
oil  dues  of  the  kingdom.  The  other  contract  was  for 
the  establishment,  by  the  French  Government  and  a 
company,  of  a  Bank  of  Burma  with  a  capital  of  rupees 
25,000,000  (or  ^1,666,666).  Loans  were  to  be  made  to 
the  King  at  the  rate  of  1 2  per  cent.,  and  other  loans  at  the 
rate  of  18  per  cent.  The  bank  was  to  be  administered 
by  a  syndicate  of  French  and  Burmese  officials.  It  was 
to  issue  notes,  and  to  have  the  management  of  the  ruby 
mines  and  the  monopoly  of  Letpet  or  "  pickled  tea." 



If  finally  ratified  and  carried  out,  these  agreements 
would  have  given  the  French  Government,  or  a  syndicate 
on  which  the  French  Government  would  have  been 
strongly  represented,  practically  the  full  control  over  the 
principal  sources  of  revenue  in  Ava,  and  over  the  only 
route  open  for  traffic  from  British  ports  to  Western 
China.  The  consequences  would  have  been  disastrous  to 
British  trade,  and  to  the  interests  of  British  Burma.  If 
once  firmly  established  in  Ava,  the  French  would,  no 
doubt,  have  tried  to  induce  other  European  nations  to 
neutralize  Ava  and  have  the  Mandalay  river  declared, 
like  the  Danube,  open  to  vessels  of  all  nationalities.  As 
the  proposed  arrangements  were  still  in  an  inchoate 
state,  there  was  yet  time  to  take  steps  either  at  Paris  or 
Mandalay  to  prevent  their  conclusion,  and  the  startling 
discovery  of  the  letter  of  15th  January,  1885,  from  M. 
Jules  Ferry  to  the  Prime  Minister  of  Ava,  already  re- 
ferred to  (page  63),  thoroughly  opened  the  eyes  of  the 
Government  of  India  and  the  British  Cabinet  to  the  un- 
friendliness of  France  and  the  hostility  of  Ava.  The 
Government  of  India  unanimously  recommended  that 
the  reception  and  proper  treatment  of  a  British  Resident 
at  Mandalay,  to  whose  advice  in  all  matters  of  foreign 
policy  the  Court  of  Ava  should  submit,  ought  to  be 
insisted  on ;  and  that,  if  those  terms  were  refused, 
measures  of  coercion  should  he  adopted. 

In  an  interview  at  the  Foreign  Office  in  London  on 
7th  August,  Lord  Salisbury  informed  M.  Waddington, 
the  French  Ambassador,  of  the  information  he  had  re- 
ceived regarding  a  proposed  concession  to  French  capi- 
talists, which  would  include  the  control  over  the  Post 
Office,  railways,  steam  navigation,  and  various  branches 
of  revenue ;  and  he  pointed  out  that,  if  such  an  under- 
taking were  attempted  to  be  carried  to  any  practical 
issue,  the  necessary  consequence  would  be  that  the 
British  Government  would  have  to  intervene  and  ma- 
terially restrict  the  liberty  and  power  of  the  King  ot 
Burma.  M.  Waddington  replied  that  he  had  no  know- 
ledge of  the  alleged  concession,  but  promised  to  make 
inquiries  and  communicate  again  on  the  subject.  As  no 
such   communication    was  forthcoming,   Lord    Salisbury 



on  9th  September  desired  Sir  J.  Walsham,  Chargi 
cT Affaires  at  Paris,  to  bring  to  the  notice  of  M. 
de  Freycinet,  the  receipt  of  reports  from  authentic 
sources  clearly  indicating  that  the  French  consul  at 
Mandalay  was  pursuing  a  policy  which  British  interests 
could  not  permit,  and  that  the  King  of  Burma  would  not 
be  allowed  to  carry  out  any  commercial  projects  which 
could  issue  in  the  establishment  of  any  preponderating 
influence  in  Ava  other  than  that  of  the  Indian  Govern- 
ment. Before  the  end  of  September  M.  Waddington 
was  authorized  to  inform  Lord  Salisbury  that  the  French 
Government  knew  absolutely  nothing  about  any  such 
agreements,  and  that  they  had  given  no  kind  of  authority 
for  making  them.  If  made  at  all,  they  must  have  been 
made  at  the  instance  of  some  speculative  company. 
Early  in  October  M.  Haas  was  ''mis  en  disponibilitd  pour 
raison  de  santdl'  and  his  machinations  and  intrigues  in 
Mandalay  were  at  an  end.  M.  Haas  is  now,  or  was  until 
quite  recently.  Consul  of  France  at  Chunking  in  Sze- 
chuan,  in  the  heart  of  the  Yangtse  valley — absit  oJiien. 

While  these  diplomatic  representations  were  being 
conducted  an  occurrence  took  place,  most  opportunely,  in 
August,  1885,  which  demanded  even  more  prompt  and 
decided  action,  while  at  the  same  time  it  had  the  un- 
questionable advantage  of  fixing  the  quarrel  with  the 
King  of  Ava  on  an  issue  with  which  the  French  Govern- 
ment could  not  under  any  circumstances  possibly  admit 
themselves  to  be  mixed  up.  Hence  their  keen  national 
susceptibilities  could  not  in  any  way  be  touched  by  the 
action  now  forced  upon,  and  about  to  be  taken  by,  the 
British  Cabinet. 

For  many  years  back  the  Ningyan  teak  forests 
covering  the  low  hills  north  of  our  frontier  above  Toun- 
goo,  and  drained  by  the  Sittang  river  and  its  tributaries, 
had  been  worked  by  the  Bombay-Burma  Trading  Cor- 
poration, Limited,  a  large  Bombay  joint-stock  concern, 
whose  chief  offices  and  mills  were  in  Rangoon,  although 
direct  and  ultimate  control  lay  with  the  firm  of  Messrs. 
Wallace  Brothers,  of  Austin  Friars,  London.  In  April, 
1885,  representations  were  made  by  the  Corporation  to 
the  Chief  Commissioner  of  Burma  that  their  working  of 



the  forests  was  being  seriously  impeded  by  action  which 
was  being  taken  on  a  charge,  alleged  to  have  been  false, 
of  having  bribed  the  Governor  of  Ningyan  to  connive  at 
the  King  being  deprived  of  the  full  amount  of  revenue 
due  on  the  timber  extracted.  In  reply  to  a  communica- 
tion addressed  to  him  on  the  subject  by  the  Chief  Com- 
misioner,  the  Foreign  Minister  stated  that  the  Corpora- 
tion's foresters  had  extracted  80,000  logs,  while  only 
32,000  had  been  paid  for.  Facilities  were  given  for  the 
examination  of  the  Toungoo  Forest  Office  records  show- 
ing the  number  of  teak  logs  imported  from  Upper  Burma, 
and  the  Corporation  were  prepared  to  produce  the  ac- 
quittances in  full  signed  by  their  foresters.  It  was  like- 
wise pointed  out  that  the  apparent  shortage  in  actual 
revenue  paid  might  be  due  to  the  fact  of  the  working  of 
the  forests  having  taken  place  under  three  separate  con- 
tracts. In  1880  the  Corporation  contracted  to  pay  the 
King  at  fixed  rates  per  log  for  all  full-sized  logs  ex- 
tracted ;  under  another  contract,  of  1 882,  they  paid  a  lump 
sum  of  one  lac  of  rupees  (;^6,666)  for  all  the  undersized 
and  inferior  logs  rejected  under  the  contract  of  1880; 
and  in  a  third  contract,  of  1883,  they  agreed  to  pay  from 
October,  1884,  a  lump  sum  annually  of  3J  lacs  (^23,333) 
for  all  full-sized  logs  and  of  one  lac  (^6,666)  for  undersized 
and  inferior  logs.  The  records  of  the  Forest  Depart- 
ment at  Toungoo  did  not  then  make  any  attempt  to 
classify  the  logs  as  to  size  and  quality ;  and  there  was 
nothing  to  show  that  any  given  log  came  under  the  cate- 
gory falling  under  the  contract  of  1880,  or  of  1882,  or  of 
1883.  No  reply  was  received  to  this  letter,  but  the 
Hlutdaw,  or  High  Court  of  Ava,  on  12th  August,  1885, 
delivered  judgment  that  the  Corporation  had  defrauded 
the  King  of  revenue  amounting  to  nearly  1 1  lacs  of 
rupees  (.2^73,333)  and  consequently  fined  them  the  double 
of  that  amount,  while  they  further  decreed  the  payment 
to  foresters  in  the  Corporation's  employ  of  sums  aggre- 
gating about  five  lacs  of  rupees  (^33,333).  In  deciding 
thus  the  Ministers  based  their  finding  entirely  upon  the 
figures  of  the  Toungoo  Forest  Office  returns,  ignoring 
the  lump  sum  contracts  of  1882  and  1883  and  the 
records  maintained  by  the  Ningyan  officials.     The  Cor- 



poration  were  ordered  to  pay  an  amount  of  23  lacs 
(^153,333)  in  four  equal  monthly  instalments,  otherwise 
their  timber  in  the  Ningyan  forests  would  be  seized  to 
the  extent  of  the  default. 

The  Corporation  pleaded  that  under  no  construction 
of  their  leases  could  such  a  sum  as  1 1  lacs  (^73-333)  be 
justly  due  from  them,  that  they  could  not  pay  the  enor- 
mous fine  demanded,  and  that  they  feared  their  leases 
and  their  property  then  in  the  forests  would  be  taken 
from  them  and  transferred  to  others.  It  was  also  stated 
on  good  authority  that  the  French  Consul  had  offered  to 
take  the  forests  if  the  Corporation's  lease  were  cancelled  ; 
and  it  is  certain  that  M.  Haas  and  M.  Bonvillein  were 
intimately  concerned  with  the  proceedings  of  the  Bur- 
mese Government. 

These  matters  having  been  duly  reported  to  the 
Government  of  India  and  the  British  Cabinet,  intimation 
was,  on  28th  August,  given  to  the  Court  of  Ava  that 
the  British  Government  insisted  on  British  subjects  in 
the  position  of  the  Bombay-Burma  Corporation  receiving 
a  fair  trial  in  place  of  being,  perhaps  unjustly,  ruined  by 
the  arbitrary  imposition  of  an  enormous  fine,  or  by  the 
sudden  cancellation  of  their  leases.  The  suspension  of 
the  realization  of  the  decree  of  the  Hlutdaw  and  of  the 
order  as  to  cancellation  of  the  Corporation's  leases  was 
desired  until  the  matter  in  dispute  between  the  King's 
forest  officers  and  the  Corporation  could  be  fully  in- 
vestigated and  adjusted  ;  and  an  offer  was  made  to  appoint 
a  judicial  officer  of  experience  to  investigate  the  facts  at 
Ningyan  and  Toungoo,  if  the  Court  of  Ava  were  willing 
to  abide  by  the  decision  of  such  an  arbitrator. 

It  was  not  till  the  middle  of  October  that  a  reply  to 
this  communication  was  received  from  the  Burmese 
Government.  They  questioned  the  right  of  the  Govern- 
ment of  India  to  raise  the  subject,  and  very  definitely 
declined  to  agree  to  the  proposed  arbitration  or  to  sus- 
pend action  against  the  Corporation,  whose  rafts  they 
had  begun  to  stop  on  20th  September,  two  days  before 
the  first  instalment  of  the  heavy  fine  was  demanded. 
With  the  unanimous  consent  of  his  colleagues  and  the  full 
approval  of  Lord  Salisbury's  Cabinet,  the  Viceroy,  Lord 



Dufferin,  authorized  the  Chief  Commissioner  of  Burma 
to  despatch  an  ultimatum  to  King  Thibaw,  demanding 
the  acceptance  of  certain  definite  proposals  for  the 
settlement  of  existing  disputes  and  the  establishment  of 
satisfactory  relations  with  Ava,  and  warning  them  that  in 
the  event  of  the  proposals  not  being  accepted  the  Go- 
vernment of  India  would  take  the  matter  into  their  own 
hands.  The  terms  of  this  ultimatum,  despatched  on 
22nd  October,  were  the  suitable  reception  of  a  Resident 
with  free  access  to  the  King,  the  entire  suspension  of  pro- 
ceedings against  the  Bombay- Burma  Corporation  until 
the  arrival  of  the  Resident,  and  the  acceptance  of  a  per- 
manent Resident  with  a  proper  guard  for  his  protection. 
The  Court  of  Ava  were  also  warned  that  they  would  be 
expected  in  future  to  regulate  their  external  affairs  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  advice  of  the  Government  of  India 
(as  in  the  case  of  Afghanistan)  and  to  grant  proper 
facilities  for  the  development  of  British  trade  with 
Western  China  through  Bhamo.  Simultaneously  with 
the  despatch  of  the  ultimatum,  troops  were  moved  over 
from  India  to  Burma  in  sufficient  numbers  to  convince 
the  Court  of  Ava  that  the  British  Government  were  in 
earnest,  that  any  injury  to  British  subjects  or  to  their 
property  would  not  be  overlooked,  and  that  undisguised 
hostilities  to  the  British  Empire  would  no  longer  be 
permitted.  The  ultimatum  was  despatched  by  a  special 
steamer,  the  Ashley  Eden,  to  Mandalay  so  as  to  reach 
there  on  or  before  the  30th  October,  and  intimation  was 
given  that,  if  unmolested,  she  would  remain  there  till 
5th  November,  in  order  to  bring  back  the  King's  reply. 
She  was  to  leave  Mandalay  without  fail  on  the  morning 
of  the  6th  November;  and,  if  she  brought  no  satisfac- 
tory reply  to  Rangoon  by  the  evening  of  the  loth,  the 
British  Government  would  proceed  to  take  such  further 
action  as  seemed  fit. 

King  Thibaw  and  his  Ministers  little  imagined  that 
during  1878  a  plan  of  campaign  against  Mandalay  had 
been  drawn  up  in  the  Military  Department  of  the 
Government  of  India  and  had  been  carefully  corrected 
and  revised  from  time  to  time,  that  orders  had  already 
been  issued  to  Major-General  Prendergast  commanding 



the  extraordinary  troops  in  Burma  to  carry  out  these 
military  operations  as  soon  as  he  received  his  orders  to 
cross  the  frontier,  or  that  a  poHtical  officer  had  already, 
during  October,  been  selected,  and  four  young  civil 
officers  warned  for  service  to  accompany  the  army  and 
arrange  for  pacifying  the  country  through  the  native 
officials,  under  the  orders  of  the  military  commandants. 
The  Burmese  Government  were  utterly  unprepared  for 
war,  and  never  realized  that  the  British  Government 
would  really  proceed  to  extremities. 

The  reply  to  the  ultimatum  was  duly  received  on  the 
9th  November.  It  was  tantamount  to  a  refusal  or 
evasion  of  the  three  terms.  It  declined  to  discuss  or 
negotiate  the  case  against  the  Corporation,  and  said  that 
if  the  British  Government  wished  to  re-establish  an 
agent,  he  would ''  be  permitted  to  come  and  go  as  in  former 
times!'  As  for  external  affairs,  they  intended  to  manage 
these  for  themselves,  intimating  boldly  that  '' frie7idly 
relations  with  France,  Italy ,  and  other  States  have  been, 
are  bei?ig,  and  will  be  mahitained'' \  while,  with  regard  to 
the  opening  up  of  trade  between  Rangoon  and  Western 
China,  commerce  would  "  be  assisted  in  conformity  with 
the  customs  of  the  country ^ 

Simultaneously  with  this  announcement,  King  Thibaw 
on  7th  November  issued  a  proclamation  (see  page  83) 
throughout  his  dominions,  calling  upon  all  his  officials 
and  subjects  to  expel  the  English,  who  threatened  war 
and  intended  to  destroy  the  religion  and  the  national 
customs  of  the  Burmese,  and  announcing  his  intention  of 
taking  the  field  in  person  if  the  British  attacked  his 
kingdom,  of  exterminating  them,  and  of  annexing  their 
^  On  loth  November  the  Viceroy  telegraphed  to  the 
Secretary  of  State,  proposing,  with  the  approval  of  the 
British  Government,  to  commence  hostile  operations  at 
once.  Next  day  the  short  reply  was  flashed  back, 
"  Please  instruct  General  Prendergast  to  advance  on 
Mandalay  at  once "  ;  and  the  third  Burmese  war  was 
begun.  Had  action  been  delayed,  a  situation  most  preju- 
dicial to  the  commercial  and  political  interests  of  Britain 
would   have   been  created  in   Upper   Burma,  and  with 



which  it  might  hereafter  have  been  difficult  to  deal.  As 
it  was,  the  decree  of  the  French  Senate  on  24th  Novem- 
ber, 1885,  authorizing  the  ratification  of  the  Franco- 
Burmese  Convention  of  15th  January,  1885  (which  might 
possibly  have  caused  complications),  was  promulgated  too 
late  to  save  King  Thibaw  from  downfall.  The  ancient 
kingdom  of  Ava  was  ultimately  ruined,  mainly  through 
French  machinations,  and  through  Thibaw  leaning  on  the 
broken  reed  of  covert  French  political  support.  It  was 
not  until  the  extremest  limits  of  forbearance  had  been 
exceeded  that  the  declaration  of  war  took  place.  Under 
the  circumstances  there  was  no  other  course  left  open. 
To  have  prolonged  forbearance  further,  in  the  face  of  the 
many  provocations  received,  would  have  soon  brought 
about  a  crisis  which  would  have  had  to  be  met  under 
conditions  more  embarrassing  to  Britain,  and  more  likely 
to  curtail  heavier  sufferings  upon  the  people  of  Upper 
Burma  than  they  were  now  about  to  be  called  upon  to 
endure.  Major-General  Prendergast  was  definitely  in- 
structed to  remember  that  he  was  about  to  operate  in  a 
country  inhabited  by  a  people  kindred  to  our  own 
Burmese  subjects  in  race,  in  religion,  and  in  material 
interests,  and  that  he  was  not  attacking  a  hostile  nation, 
but  a  perverse  and  impracticable  Court.  After  the 
attitude  of  France,  and  the  machinations  of  M.  Haas,  the 
French  Consul,  and  other  French  subjects,  nothing  short 
of  annexation  had  become  possible  :  for  the  Nyaungyan 
Prince,  the  only  member  of  the  royal  house  of  Alaung 
Payd  whose  abilities  and  character  would  have  de- 
served serious  consideration  as  to  raising  him  to  the 
status  of  the  ruler  of  a  protected  State,  was  now  dead. 

chapter  IV 

BER,  1885,  TO  1ST  JANUARY,  1886). 

ON  2ist  October,  1885,  the  Government  of  India 
ordered  an  expeditionary  force  to  proceed  to 
Burma  in  readiness  for  active  service  in  Ava,  if  necessary. 
It  was  under  the  command  of  Major-General  (afterwards 
Sir  Harry)  Prendergast,  V.C.,  and  was  concentrated  at 
Thayetmyo,  the  frontier  miUtary  station  on  the  Irra- 
waddy  river.  On  the  13th  November  the  orders  for  its 
advance  on  Mandalay  were  issued  ;  and  on  the  14th  the 
frontier  was  crossed,  the  line  of  advance  being  up  the 
I  rrawaddy. 

Early   in   November    General  Prendergast  had  been 
made  aware  of  the  nature  of  the  ultimatum  despatched 
to  the  Court  of  Ava,  and    had   been  warned    to   hold 
himself  in  readiness  to  immediately  carry  out  the  plan  of 
operations  prescribed  by  the   Commander-in-Chief,   Sir 
Frederick  Roberts,  V.C.  (now  Earl  Roberts,  K.G.),  in  the 
event   of  intimation   being  given    that    the    reply    from 
Mandalay   was   unsatisfactory.     From    the    moment   of 
entering    Avan   territory  General   Prendergast  was  in- 
vested   with    supreme    political    as     well    as    military 
authority,  while  Colonel  (afterwards  Sir  Edward)  Sladen 
and  some  junior    officers    of   the  British  Burma  Com- 
mission were  attached  to  the  force  as  political  officers 
under  his  orders.     Explicit  instructions  were  given  to 
him  that  Mandalay  was  to  be  occupied  and  King  Thibaw 
dethroned,  and  that  no   offer  of  submission   was  to  be 
accepted  which  could  affect  the  movement  of  the  troops. 
These  facts  were  to  be  definitely  made  known  to  all  the 
Burmese  authorities,   and   to  the  population,  during  the 



progress  towards  the  capital.  In  the  event  of  annexation 
being  decided  on,  Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  Charles)  Bernard 
would  be  directed  to  proceed  to  Mandalay  and  assume 
civil  control  ;  but,  in  the  meantime.  General  Prendergast 
was  to  garrison  every  important  fort  or  town  and  leave 
there  a  civil  officer  who  should,  under  the  orders  of  the 
commandant  of  the  troops,  place  himself  in  communica- 
tion with  the  local  Burmese  officials,  and  through  them 
pacify  and  administer  the  country,  giving  assurances  that 
King  Thibaw  would  not  remain  in  power.  As  the  objects 
of  the  expedition  were  the  occupation  of  Mandalay  and  the 
dethronement  of  Thibaw,  these  results  were  to  be  gained 
bloodlessly,  if  possible,  by  the  simple  display  of  force. 
Any  conflict  with  the  population  at  large  was  to  be 
avoided,  and  everthing  was  to  be  done  to  try  and  secure, 
without  bloodshed,  their  acquiescence  in  the  administrative 
and  political  changes  that  would  be  found  necessary. 

While  these  instructions  were  being  forwarded  from 
Calcutta  to  Rangoon,  King  Thibaw  had  uttered  a  feeble 
but  vainglorious  war-cry  throughout  the  kingdom  of  Ava. 
Following  immediately  on  his  rejection  of  the  British 
proposals  on  7th  November,  1885,  he  issued  a  bombastic 
proclamation  to  the  following  effect : — 

"  To  the  headmen  of  all  towns  and  villages,  heads  of  cavalry,  chief 
umpires  and  referees,  shield-bearers,  heads  of  jails,  heads  of  gold  and 
silver  revenues,  mine  workers,  arbitrators,  forest  officials,  and  all  the 
subjects  and  inhabitants  of  the  royal  territories  : 

"  Those  heretics,  the  English  Kala  {i.e.,  non-mongolian  barbarians), 
having  most  harshly  made  demands  likely  to  impair  and  destroy  our 
religion,  violate  our  national  customs,  and  degrade  our  race,  are  making 
a  display  and  preparation  as  if  about  to  wage  war  against  our  State. 
Reply  has  been  sent  to  them  in  conformity  with  the  usages  of  great 
nations,  and  in  words  which  are  just  and  regular.  But  if  these  heretic 
Kala  should  come  and  attempt  to  molest  or  disturb  the  State  in  any 
way,  His  Majesty  the  King,  watchful  that  the  interests  of  religion  and 
of  the  State  shall  not  suffer,  will  himself  march  forth  with  his  generals, 
captains,  and  lieutenants,  with  large  forces  of  infantry,  cavalry,  artillery, 
and  elephants,  and  with  the  might  of  his  army  will  by  land  and  water 
efface  these  heretic  Kala,  and  conquer  and  annex  their  territories.  All 
the  inhabitants  of  the  royal  kingdom  of  Ava  are  enjoined  not  to  be 
alarmed  or  disturbed  on  account  of  the  hostility  of  these  heretic  Kala^ 
and  they  are  not  to  avoid  them  by  leaving  the  country.  They  are  to 
continue  to  carry  on  their  occupations  as  usual  in  a  peaceful  manner. 
The  local  officials  are,  each  in  his  own  town  or  village,  to  watch  and  see 



that  there  are  no  thefts,  dacoities,  or  other  State  crimes.  The  royal  troops 
now  being  sent  forth  will  not  be  collected,  as  formerly,  by  forcibly 
pressing  into  service  all  who  can  be  found  :  but  the  royal  troops  now 
banded  into  regiments  in  Mandalay  will  be  sent  forth  to  attack,  destroy, 
and  annex.  The  local  officials  are  not  to  impress  forcibly  into  service 
any  one  who  may  not  wish  to  serve;  but  to  uphold  the  rehgion,  the 
national  honour,  and  the  country's  interests,  will  bring  threefold  religious 
merit— good  of  religion,  good  of  the  King,  and  good  of  the  nation — 
and  will  result  in  leading  along  the  path  of  the  celestial  regions  to 
Neikban  (Nirvana).  Whoever  joins  and  serves  zealously  will  receive 
money  and  royal  rewards,  and  will  serve  in  the  capacity  for  which  he 
may  be  found  fit.  Loyal  officials  are  to  search  for  volunteers  and 
others  who  may  wish  to  serve,  and  are  to  send  lists  of  them  to  the 
provincial  governments." 

General  Prendergast  was  also,  on  the  day  on  which 
the  advance  was  ordered,  provided  with  a  Proclamation 
to  be  issued  to  all  priests,  officials,  traders,  agriculturists, 
and  other  inhabitants  of  the  tracts  he  passed  through ; 
but  it  was  in  a  very  different  strain  from  Thibaw's 
manifesto.  After  briefly  narrating  the  circumstances 
under  which  the  Government  of  India  had  found  them- 
selves compelled  to  undertake  the  expedition,  and  their 
consequent  intention  to  dethrone  him,  it  concluded  by 
saying  : — 

"  It  is  the  earnest  desire  of  the  Viceroy  and  Governor-General  ol 
India  that  bloodshed  should  be  avoided,  and  that  the  peaceful  inhabit- 
ants of  all  classes  should  be  encouraged  to  pursue  their  usual  callings 
without  fear  of  molestation.  None  will  have  anything  to  apprehend  so 
long  as  you  do  not  oppose  the  passage  of  the  troops.  .  .  .  Your 
private  rights,  your  religion,  and  national  customs  will  be  scrupulously 
respected,  and  the  Government  of  India  will  recognize  the  services  of 
all  amongst  you,  whether  officials  or  others,  who  show  zeal  in  assisting 
the  British  authorities  to  preserve  order." 

The  expeditionary  force  comprised  a  Naval  Brigade, 
under  Captain  R.  Woodward,  R.N.,  formed  of  detach- 
ments from  the  ships  of  Admiral  Sir  Frederick  Richards' 
squadron,  then  lying  at  Rangoon,  three  regiments  of 
British  Infantry,  seven  regiments  of  native  Infantry,  six 
companies  of  Sappers  and  Miners,  one  Field  Battery  and 
two  Garrison  Batteries  of  Royal  Artillery,  and  one  British 
and  two  native  Mountain  Batteries.  Its  total  strength 
was  9,467  men,  with  "j^  guns,  of  which  27  were  quick- 
firing    machine    guns.       Piloted    by   the    river-steamer 



I. M.S.  Irrawaddy,  the  expeditionary  force  ascended  In 
twenty-four   steamers   and    twenty-three   flats  chartered 
from  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla  Company.     The  land  forces 
were    divided    into    three    brigades,    respectively   com- 
manded   by    Brigadiers-General    H.    H.   Foord,    G.    S. 
White,  V.C.,  and  F.  B.  Norman.     The  campaign  com- 
menced  by  the  Irrawaddy,  which   crossed   the  frontier 
about    noon    on    the    14th    November,    engaging    and 
capturing   a    King's  steamer,  which  was  sent   down    to 
Thayetmyo  in  charge  of  the  launch  Kathleen,  while  the 
Irrawaddy  brought   down    the  two    flats  that    she  had 
been  towing.     One  of  these  had  been  prepared  for  sink- 
ing in  the  river,  and  had  rows  of  posts,  each  ten  feet  high 
by  six  inches  square,  let  into  the  deck  and  sharpened 
into  points  which   must  inevitably  have  destroyed  any 
shallow-bottomed  river  steamer  that  ran  against  them. 
When  the  steamer  was  shelled,  and  its  deck  cleared  for 
action,  the  crew  jumped  overboard  and  fled,  accompanied 
by  Commotto,  one  of  two  Italian  adventurers  (Commotto 
and  Molinari)  who  had  become  the  hirelings  of  the  King. 
Commotto  had  been   allotted  the  task  of  blockinof  the 
river  near  the   frontier,  which    he  was  on    his  way  to 
accomplish,  while  Molinari  was  charged  with  strengthen- 
ing the  fortifications  below  Mandalay.     From  the  papers 
left  on  the  steamer  by  Commotto  information  was  ob- 
tained   as   to   the    King's    military   preparations,   which 
corroborated  the  news  given  by  the  commanders  of  the 
last  two  Irrawaddy  Flotilla  Company's  steamers  which 
had   run  the   gauntlet  of  the   forts  in  their  latest   trip 
down  stream.     On   the    i6th   November   the   Burmese 
stockades  erected   at  Nyaungbinmaw  and  Sinbaungwe, 
positions    held   respectively  on    the    right  and    the   left 
banks  of  the   river,   were   carried  without   any  serious 
fighting.      On   the  following  day  the   forts  of    Minhla 
on  the  right  bank,  and  Gwegyaung  Kamyo  on  the  left 
bank  were    captured   after   some   sharp    fighting.     The 
former  was  strengthened  and  garrisoned,  while  the  latter 
was  demolished.     The  ordinary  garrison  of  Gwegyaung 
Kamyo  was  700,  but  it  had  been  reinforced  by  1,000  men 
three  days  previously.     They  fled  on  the  appearance  at 
close  quarters  of  the  British  infantry,  who  had  marched 



seven  miles  through  the  jungle  to  the  rear  of  the  fort 
On  the  right  bank  three  native  regiments  landed,  and 
after  breaking  down  two  outer  lines  of  defence  stormed 
Minhla  fort  after  three  hours'  fighting.  The  Burmese, 
well  concealed,  fired  rapidly,  and  disputed  every  mch  of 
the  way  to  the  redoubt ;  but,  when  once  it  was  rushed, 
they  fled  from  the  fort  and  their  rout  was  complete. 
The  town  of  Minhla  was  burned  down,  being  accident- 
ally set  fire  to  by  the  shells  thrown  at  the  redoubt. 
This  was  the  only  place  where  anything  like  stubborn 
resistance  was  offered  to  the  British  arms.  Mr.  Phayre, 
who  had  been  Assistant  Resident  at  Mandalay  until 
October,  1879,  was  left  behind  as  civil  officer.  The 
people  and  the  priests  appeared  to  willingly  accept  the 
new  situation,  though  the  high  officials  could  not  be 
expected  to  submit  till  they  knew  that  Mandalay  had 
fallen.  At  Magwe,  on  the  20th,  Commotto  and  Molinari, 
the  two  Italians  who  had  guaranteed  to  Thibaw  that 
British  troops  would  not  be  able  to  pass  the  frontier 
forts  constructed  and  fortified  by  them,  surrendered 
themselves  as  prisoners  of  war. 

On  22nd  November  shots  were  exchanged  with  the 
batteries  at  Nyaungu,  just  above  Pagan,  but  the  works 
were  soon  abandoned  by  the  Burmese  and  dismantled, 
the  guns  being  spiked.  The  Burmese  soldiers,  who 
numbered  1,000,  had  been  plundering  and  robbing  all 
the  villages  in  the  vicinity.  At  Pagdn  another  military 
post  was  established,  with  a  civil  officer  to  initiate  the 
work  of  administration. 

At  Pakokko,  which  was  passed  on  the  24th,  about 
1,000  soldiers  from  Mandalay  had  been  stationed,  but 
they  ran  away  on  the  approach  of  the  British.  That 
same  afternoon  Myingyan,  a  large  and  important  town 
near  the  mouth  of  the  Chindwin  river,  was  reached.  A 
large  Burmese  force  was  reported  to  be  holding  the  forts 
there.  While  the  big  guns  were  engaging  the  batteries 
on  the  river's  bank,  a  body  of  about  2,000  men,  dressed 
in  red,  white,  and  magenta  coats,  and  with  chiefs  havino- 
golden  umbrellas  held  over  them,  were  seen  on  rising 
ground  some  three  miles  inland.  These  were  the  head- 
quarters and  the  reserve  of  the  Burmese  army,  but  the 



force  took  no  part  in  the  fighting-.  Before  operations 
could  be  resumed  next  morning  the  Burmese  withdrew, 
and  the  twenty- one  guns  forming  the  two  batteries  were 
destroyed.  On  the  previous  evening  the  commander  of 
the  Burmese  forces,  the  Hlethin  Atwin  Wun,  who  was 
considered  to  be  the  best  of  Thibaw's  generals,  tele- 
graphed to  the  King  that  he  had  gained  a  great  victory 
over  the  British ;  but  the  truth  was  soon  known  in  the 
capital.  This  easy  capture  of  Myingyan,  where  6,000 
picked  troops  are  said  to  have  been  sent,  practically 
decided  the  campaign  ;  for  it  was  afterwards  ascertained 
that  if  the  British  had  received  any  check  here,  the 
Burmese  intended  to  hold  out  at  Ava  and  Sagaing,  and 
compel  the  expeditionary  force  to  undertake  siege  opera- 
tions. A  garrison  and  a  civil  officer  were  left  at  Myin- 
gyan. Many  Burmese,  who  had  previously  fled  from 
the  town  while  it  was  in  the  hands  of  Thibaw's  troops, 
came  in  to  welcome  the  British  arrival.  The  head 
Pongyi  (or  religious  recluse)  said  the  town  had  been 
an  abode  of  miser)^  whilst  the  soldiery  was  there,  that 
two  hundred  ponies  had  been  requisitioned  for  the  King's 
cavalry,  that  robber)-  had  been  prevalent,  that  property 
had  been  stolen,  and  women  had  been  dragged  from 
their  houses  and  ravished. 

On  the  26th  November  Yandabii,  the  extreme  limit 
of  the  advance  of  the  British  troops  during  the  first 
Burmese  war  in  1826,  was  passed,  and  on  that  after- 
noon, near  the  village  of  Nazu,  the  State  barge, 
paddled  by  forty-four  men,  came  flying  a  flag  of 
truce  at  the  bow  and  the  King's  ensign  at  the  stern. 
Seated  in  the  bows  and  wearinof  enormous  Shan 
hats  were  the  Kyaukmyaung  Atwin  Wun  and  the 
Wetmasut  Wundauk,  who  came  as  Envoys  bearing  a 
memorandum  from  the  Prime  Minister.  Coming  on 
board  without  their  shoes,  they  delivered  this  document 
to  General  Prendergast  and  Colonel  Sladen.  It  was 
unsigned  by  the  King,  but  bore  the  royal  peacock  seal. 
Beginning  naively  with  the  statement  that  the  Burmese 
Government  were  under  the  impression  that  the  former 
friendly  conditions  would  still  prevail,  and  that  they 
could  therefore  not  believe  the  British  would  make  war 


against  Upper  Burma,  it  declared  the  King  of  Burma 
ready  to  grant  all  that  was  demanded  in  the  ultimatum, 
desired  the  cessation  of  hostilities,  and  offered  to  enter 
into  a  treaty.  Under  the  instructions  upon  which  he 
was  acting,  General  Prendergast  could  only  reply  that  no 
armistice  could  be  granted,  but  that  if  King  Thibaw 
surrendered  himself,  his  army,  and  his  capital,  and  if  the 
European  residents  in  Mandalay  were  all  found  unin- 
jured in  life  and  property,  the  King's  life  would  be  spared 
and  his  family  respected.  A  reply  to  this  was  demanded 
before  4  a.m.  on  the  following  morning.  Meanwhile,  the 
fleet  continued  to  advance,  and  was  anchored  for  the 
night  off  the  village  of  Kyauktalon,  about  seven  miles 
below  Ava. 

As  no  answer  was  forthcoming,  the  fleet  moved  on  at 
daylight;  and  orders,  with  plans  attached,  were  issued 
for  the  attack  on  Ava.  About  half-past  ten  o'clock, 
when  the  proposed  landing  place  was  in  view,  the  State 
barge  was  seen  putting  out  with  a  Hag  of  truce.  The 
same  Envoys  this  time  brought  a  telegram  from  the  King 
conceding  unconditionally  all  the  demands  made  on  the 
previous  day,  ordering  the  Ministers  conducting  the 
military  operations  at  Sagaing  and  Ava  not  on  any 
account  to  fire  on  the  British,  and  directing  them  to  keep 
all  the  troops  quiet. 

At  Ava  fort  some  8,000  troops,  only  about  two-thirds 
of  whom  were  armed  with  rifles  or  guns  and  the  rest 
with  spears,  swords,  and  bills,  were  collected  to  oppose 
the  advance  of  the  British.  General  Prendergast  insisted 
on  this  portion  of  the  army  laying  down  their  arms,  but 
the  Commander  of  the  forces,  the  Bohmu  Kin  Atwin 
Wun,  who  was  senior  in  rank  to  either  of  the  Envoys, 
refused  to  do  so  without  a  direct  order  from  the  King. 
Some  delay  occurred  in  finding  and  buoying  an  opening 
in  the  channel  through  the  barrier,  but  by  the  time  the 
British  fleet  had  been  placed  by  signal  in  the  best 
positions  in  fighting  order  and  the  demand  again  pressed 
for  the  immediate  surrender  of  the  arms,  the  royal  man- 
date had  been  telegraphed  from  Mandalay,  eleven  miles 
distant.  Most  unfortunately  only  some  550  of  the  rifles 
and  muskets  were  then  obtained ;  for,  as  soon  as  the 



King's  orders  for  the  surrender  became  known,  large 
numbers  of  the  soldiers  went  off  at  once  in  all  directions 
before  British  troops  could  be  landed  to  ensure  the 
disarmament  of  the  whole  force.  The  forts  at  Sagaing 
and  Thambayadaing  on  the  right  bank  of  the  river 
above  Ava,  likewise  surrendered  without  a  blow  and 
were  disarmed,  though  here  again  only  about  400 
muskets  were  collected.  From  Ava  fort  28  guns  were 
carried  off  as  trophies ;  while  32  were  destroyed  at 
Sagaing,  and  14  at  Thambayddaing  in  dismantling  the 
forts  and  river  bank  batteries.  With  the  exception  of 
three  transports  left  with  the  troops  ordered  to  land  and 
complete  the  disarmament  of  the  forts  and  batteries,  the 
fleet  moved  on  to  Mandalay,  and  arrived  there  at  10 
o'clock  on  the  morning  of  28th  November,  1885. 
Crowds  of  Burmese  watched  the  arrival  of  the  force 
from  the  banks,  and  appeared  only  too  pleased  to  obey 
the  royal  mandate  that  had  been  issued  prohibiting  any 
opposition  to  the  landing.  Information  was  at  once 
obtained  that  the  King  had  been  in  the  palace  up  to 
nine  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  that  the  city  was  quiet. 

At  eleven  o'clock  the  arrival  of  the  British  force  was 
notified  to  the  Prime  Minister  and  intimation  given  that, 
in  accordance  with  the  terms  of  the  previous  day's  com- 
munication received  at  Ava,  the  immediate  surrender  of 
the  capital  and  the  King  was  expected.  He  was  further 
informed  that,  unless  a  reply  was  received  by  noon,  the 
troops  would  land  and  be  employed  as  circumstances 
might  demand.  As  it  was  not  until  after  midday  that 
the  Kinwun  Mingyi's  reply  was  received,  to  the  effect 
that  he  would  be  on  board  the  Doowoon  to  consult  with 
General  Prendergast  and  Colonel  Sladen,  the  troops  were 
landed  at  1.30  p.m.,  all  regiments  being  ordered  to  take 
their  colours  and  bands. 

The  royal  city  of  Mandalay  is  situated  about  three  to 
four  miles  to  the  east  of  the  Irrawaddy,  with  which  there 
is  connexion  through  the  outer  town  along  four  main 
roads  (still  named  A,  B,  C,  and  D  roads)  running  due 
east  from  the  river.  The  first  brigade,  under  General 
Foord,  marched  by  A  road,  and  secured  the  southern 
and  eastern  gates  of  the  city.     The  third  brigade,  under 



General  Norman,  marched  along  C  road,  and  secured 
the  western  and  northern  city  gates  and  the  west  and 
north  gates  of  the  palace  enclosure.  The  second  brigade, 
under  General  White,  accompanied  by  Colonel  Sladen, 
proceeded  by  C  road,  entered  the  city  by  the  south  gate, 
and  secured  the  south  and  east  gates  of  the  palace  en- 
closure. At  the  five  main  gates  of  the  city,  from  which 
bridges  led  over  the  broad  moat  surrounding  the  city 
wall,  the  guards  were  disarmed  and  allowed  to  go  to 
their  homes,  being  replaced  by  British  and  native  soldiers. 
As  the  troops  marched  through  the  western  suburbs  the 
population  thronged  the  roads,  gazing  in  quiet  amazement, 
as  if  looking  on  at  some  ceremonial  festival. 

Knowing  the  road.  Colonel  Sladen,  who  had  been 
selected  as  political  officer  on  the  strength  of  his  having 
long  since  been  British  Resident  in  Mandalay,  rode  with 
guides  ahead  of  the  troops  in  the  hope  of  meeting  the 
Prime  Minister.  Hearing  that  the  Kinwun  Mingyi  had 
taken  another  route.  Colonel  Sladen  merely  sent  a 
mounted  scout  to  tell  him  to  come  as  quickly  as  possible 
to  the  southern  city  gate.  Without  waiting  for  the 
Prime  Minister,  Colonel  Sladen  entered  the  southern 
city  gate  at  3  p.m.,  and  proceeded,  without  interference 
or  obstruction,  through  the  city  to  the  eastern  or  main 
entrance  of  the  stockaded  palace  enclosure,  accompanied 
only  by  Mr.  Nicholas,  his  clerk  and  interpreter,  and 
Commander  Morgan,  of  one  of  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla 
Company's  steamers,  who  was  well  acquainted  with  the 
interior  of  the  city  and  the  palace.  When  they  had 
waited  here  for  a  few  minutes,  the  Kinwun  Mingyi  was 
descried  coming  in  full  haste  on  an  elephant.  After  a 
formal  greeting,  he  asked  Colonel  Sladen  to  accompany 
him  alone  into  the  palace  enclosure,  and  not  on  any  ac- 
count to  let  the  troops  enter.  Leaving  a  note  for 
General  Prendergast,  asking  that  the  troops  should  not 
be  ordered  to  enter  before  again  hearing  from  him, 
Colonel  Sladen  entered  the  HhUdaw,  or  Great  Council 
Chamber,  and  was  shortly  afterwards  received  by  King 
Thibaw  in  the  Hall  of  Audience,  as  if  at  an  ordinary 
public  reception.  Queen  Supayalat,  who  had  been 
watching  the  approach  of  the  troops  from  a  lofty  wooden 



outlook  tower,  at  the  south-east  corner  of  the  palace 
buildings,  and  the  Queen-mother  (Dowager  Queen  Sin- 
pyumashin)  were  present,  while  the  usual  palace  guards 
were  in  attendance.  With  very  little  preamble  the  King 
surrendered  himself  and  his  kingdom  ;  but  he  asked  to 
be  granted  a  day  or  two  for  preparation  in  place  of 
being  taken  away  suddenly,  and  he  proposed  meanwhile 
to  leave  the  palace  and  go  into  a  summer-house  in  the 
royal  garden  within  the  enclosure.  In  reply  he  was 
informed  that  General  Prendergast  was  in  supreme  com- 
mand to  carry  out  the  orders  of  the  Government  of 
India,  but  that  he  would  not  be  interfered  with  in  his 
palace  that  night,  nor  would  the  immediate  palace  pre- 
cincts be  interfered  with  ;  and  it  was  arranged  that  the 
King  should  now  consider  himself  a  prisoner,  and  sur- 
render himself  formally  to  General  Prendergast  on  the 
following  day.  Thibaw  having  agreed  to  this,  and  the 
Ministers  guaranteeing  to  deliver  him  safely  next  morn- 
ing or  pay  the  penalty  with  their  lives,  Colonel  Sladen, 
about  5  p.m.,  returned  to  the  eastern  gate  of  the  outer 
palace  enclosure  and  communicated  the  news  of  the 
King's  unconditional  surrender  to  General  Prendergast, 
and  his  intention  to  surrender  himself  personally  and 
formally  on  the  following  day.  The  Hampshire  Regi- 
ment, the  ist  Madras  Pioneers,  and  the  Hazara  Moun- 
tain Battery,  which  had  all  come  provided  with  three 
days'  provisions,  cooking  utensils,  bakery,  slaughter- 
house establishment,  and  entrenching  equipment,  were 
left  under  the  command  of  Brigadier-General  White  to 
guard  the  palace  for  the  night,  being  ordered  to  enter 
and  occupy  the  outer  enclosure  as  far  as  the  Hlutdaw 
and  the  royal  Red  Gate,  or  main  entrance  to  the  inner 
palace.  The  rest  of  the  troops  returned  to  the  transports 
in  the  evening. 

So  far  everything  had  gone  well;  but  an  inconceivably 
weak  permission  was  now  accorded,  which  led  to  an 
enormous  amount  of  looting.  At  the  instance  of  Colonel 
Sladen  and  the  Ministers,  who  requested  that  palace 
women  should  be  allowed  exit  and  entrance  through 
the  western  gate  of  the  palace  enclosure  leading  to  the 
Queen's  apartments.   General    Prendergast,   against    his 



first  and  better  judgement,  ordered  that  women  were  to 
be  allowed  to  go  in  and  out  of  the  west  gate  of  the 
palace.  It  was  known  that  King  Thibaw,  in  place  of 
carrying  out  his  bombast  as  to  heading  his  army  and 
effacing  the  British,  had  made  arrangements  for  flight. 
Fifty  elephants,  with  trusty  friends,  were  waiting  for 
him  at  Shwemaga,  twelve  miles  north  of  Mandalay, 
to  convey  him  to  Shwebo  (M6ks6bo),  the  birthplace  and 
the  burialplace  of  Alaung  Paya,  the  illustrious  founder 
of  the  royal  family,  Moksobo  being  the  dynastic  strong- 
hold of  their  race.  It  was  probably  only  the  con- 
dition of  Queen  Supaydlat,  then  approaching  a  confine- 
ment, that  had  hindered  him  from  fleeing  on  the  previous 
day.  Aware  of  this.  General  Prendergast  pointed  out 
the  danger  which  existed  of  the  King  passing  out  in  the 
disguise  of  a  woman,  when  one  of  the  Ministers  calmly 
proposed  that  the  sentries  should  make  personal  ex- 
amination of  each  individual  passing  in  or  out.  In  a 
weak  moment,  however.  General  Prendergast  gave  the 
required  consent.  The  result  was  that,  out  of  the  300 
female  attendants  in  the  royal  apartments,  only  seventeen 
remained  faithful  until  the  next  morning,  while  crowds 
of  common  women  from  the  city  poured  in  and  out  all 
night  through,  looting  from  the  royal  apartments  every 
valuable  thing  of  small  size  they  could  lay  hands  on. 
How  such  a  proposal  from  the  Burmese  Minister  could 
have  been  supported  by  Colonel  Sladen  and  sanctioned 
by  General  Prendergast  it  is  impossible  to  understand. 
It  was  a  blunder,  and  was  subsequently  admitted  to 
have  been  one. 

Almost  entirely  abandoned  by  their  attendants, — for 
most  of  the  guards  of  the  previous  evening  had  withdrawn, 
as  well  as  most  of  the  maids  of  honour, — and  seeing 
the  looting  carried  on  by  the  female  scum  of  the  city, 
the  King  and  the  Queens  fell  into  a  state  of  panic.  Early 
on  the  29th  Colonel  Sladen,  having  passed  the  night  in 
the  Hlutdaw,  received  a  message  from  the  Taingda 
Mingyi,  who  had  remained  with  a  strong  guard  inside 
the  palace  in  charge  of  Thibaw.  The  Mingyi  had 
himself  come  to  say  the  King  was  in  a  state  of  panic, 
and  fancied  that  soldiers  would  break  into  the  palace  and 



kill  him.  Proceeding  into  the  palace,  Colonel  Sladen 
found  the  King,  Queens,  and  Queen-mother  almost  un- 
attended, while  women  of  low  class  were  streaming  in 
through  all  the  western  portions  of  the  palace.  Whilst 
Colonel  Sladen  accompanied  the  Queens  and  their  Queen- 
mother  to  see  what  was  going  on  in  their  private  apart- 
ments, the  King  collected  together  a  large  quantity  of 
gold  and  jewelled  vessels  used  on  State  occasions.  For 
their  protection  Colonel  Sladen  went  to  the  palace  gate 
and  called  an  officer  and  twenty-five  men  of  the  Hamp- 
shire Regiment,  who  were  dropped  as  sentries  as  each 
of  the  several  royal  apartments  was  passed  through. 
Whilst  this  was  taking  place.  King  Thibaw,  his  two 
Queens  and  their  mother  (Dowager-Queen  Sinpyuma- 
shin)  retired  to  a  small  summer-house  at  the  edge  of 
the  royal  gardens.  A  cordon  of  sentries  was  placed 
round  this  little  building,  and  the  King  remained  a 
prisoner  here  till  his  formal  surrender  in  the  course  of 
the  afternoon.  Abandoned  by  all  his  Ministers,  and  de- 
serted by  most  of  the  personal  attendants  and  servants 
of  the  palace,  the  King  complained  bitterly. 

At  a  quarter-past  ten  o'clock  on  the  morning  of 
29th  November,  1885,  Major-General  Prendergast,  at- 
tended by  his  personal  escort  of  an  officer,  ten  mounted 
infantry  and  four  orderlies,  and  accompanied  by  Brigadier- 
General  Norman  commanding  a  brigade  composed  of  the 
Mounted  Corps,  theQ-ist  (Cinque  Ports)  Royal  Artillery, 
the  Royal  Welsh  Fusiliers  and  the  23rd  Madras  In- 
fantry, proceeded  to  the  eastern  or  royal  gate  on  the 
far  side  of  the  city,  and  marched  through  the  latter  to  the 
royal  Red  Gate  or  main  entrance  of  the  inner  palace 
enclosure,  where  he  arrived  at  one  o'clock.  The  four 
Mingyi,  or  principal  Ministers  of  the  Great  State  Council, 
were  sent  for,  and  accompanied  the  General,  his  staff 
and  Colonel  Sladen  to  an  interview  with  the  King. 

Headed  by  the  Taingda  Mingyi,  who,  though  not 
the  Prime  Minister,  had  been  placed  in  charge  of  the 
King  on  the  previous  evening,  the  procession  wended 
its  way  through  the  south-east  corner  of  the  palace 
buildings,  past  the  Hall  of  Audience,  by  the  Queen's 
watch-tower  and  through  passages  in  the  palace  towards 



the  little  summer-house  in  the  garden,  near  the  south- 
western corner  of  the  royal  apartments.  Here  the  King 
was  found  seated  with  his  two  Queens  (Supayalat  and 
Supayagale)  and  the  Dowager  Queen  Sinpyumashin,  and 
gave  himself  up  to  General  Prendergast.  The  King  was 
told  he  would  have  to  leave  at  once  and  go  on  board 
a  steamer.  He  begged  for  delay,  which  could  not  be 
granted ;  and  preparations  were  made  for  immediate 
departure.  As  soon  as  these  had  been  completed,  the 
dethroned  King  walked  with  his  two  Queens  and  the 
Queen-mother,  the  latter  heading  the  procession,  through 
the  palace  buildings,  down  the  stairs  in  front  of  the  Hall 
of  Audience,  through  the  royal  Red  Gate,  and  past  the 
HhUdaw  to  the  main  road  outside  the  palace  enclosure. 
From  the  steps  of  the  palace  to  the  main  gate  of  the 
outer  stockade  the  cortege  passed  through  double  files 
of  the  Hampshire  Regiment,  and  out  on  to  the  roadway. 
Here  two  Burmese  carriages,  or  box-like  two-wheeled 
carts,  drawn  by  bullocks,  had  been  provided  for  the  King 
and  his  suite,  while  the  remainder  of  his  very  scanty 
following,  consisting  of  only  a  few  female  attendants, 
either  walked  or  were  carried  in  doolies.  This  was  the 
first  occasion  on  which  King  Thibaw  had  ever  been  out- 
side of  his  palace  since,  more  than  seven  years  before, 
he  had  been  declared  heir  apparent  by  the  palace  intrigue 
and  coup  d'etat  of  his  mother-in-law,  Sinpyumashin. 

At  the  main  gate  of  the  outer  palace  enclosure 
Brigadier-General  Norman  received  the  King  and  es- 
corted him  to  the  river.  The  procession  consisted  of 
the  23rd  Madras  Infantry,  leading,  the  9-ist  (Cinque 
Ports)  Royal  Artillery,  then  the  King  and  suite,  while 
the  Royal  Welsh  Fusiliers  closed  the  rear.  A  move 
was  made  at  half-past  three  o'clock,  eight  white  or  royal 
umbrellas  being  held  over  the  King  and  the  Queens,  in 
place  of  the  nine  to  which  he  had  been  entitled  whilst 
King  of  Ava.  This  still  exceeded  by  one,  however,  the 
number  permissible  to  any  of  the  reigning  Sawbwa  or 
feudatory  Princes  of  the  Shan  States.  At  first  the 
number  of  Burmese  onlookers  was  small,  and  no  de- 
monstration was  made.  As  darkness  came  on  and 
the  river  was  approached,  the  crowds  along  the  road- 



sides  and  at  the  corners  of  cross-roads  became  very 
large.  Here  and  there  the  waiHngs  of  women  were 
to  be  heard,  and  the  crowd,  in  their  anxiety  to  see  the 
royal  prisoners,  showed  slight  signs  of  impatience.  No- 
thing amounting  to  a  demonstration  was  made,  and 
there  was  no  attempt  at  a  rescue.  At  a  quarter-past 
six  o'clock  the  King  and  his  retinue  were  safely  placed 
on  board  the  steamer  Thooreah  ("  the  Sun  "),  the 
river  bank  being  lined  with  two  companies  of  the 
Liverpool  Regiment  and  the  Naval  Brigade.  On  re- 
ceiving its  royal  freight  the  Thooreah  put  out  into  mid- 
stream, and  left  for  Rangoon  the  following  morning. 
The  escort  for  the  voyage  consisted  of  two  companies 
of  the  Liverpool  Regiment  under  Colonel  Le  Mesurier. 
The  Kinwun  Mingyi,  the  Prime  Minister,  other  two 
Ministers  of  State,  and  three  Privy  Councillors,  were  de- 
ported to  Rangoon  along  with  the  King ;  but  not  one  of 
them  all  was  willing  to  accompany  his  royal  master 
into  exile.  Without  again  putting  foot  on  the  soil  of 
Burma,  Thibaw  was  transferred,  with  his  two  Queens,  to 
an  ocean  steamer  at  Rangoon  on  loth  December,  and 
taken  vid  Madras  to  Ratnagiri  fort  on  the  Bombay 
coast,  where  he  still  remains  a  prisoner  of  State.  The 
Dowager  Queen  was  sent  to  Tavoy,  in  Lower  Burma. 

On  the  evening  of  29th  November  the  city  and  the 
suburbs  were  much  disturbed.  The  city,  that  is  to  say, 
the  portion  of  Mandalay  lying  within  the  moat  and 
walls,  consisted  of  about  eighteen  to  twenty  thousand 
houses,  containing  a  population  estimated  at  from  ninety 
to  a  hundred  thousand  souls;  while  about  as  many  were 
to  be  found  in  the  suburbs,  situated  chiefly  between  the 
city  and  the  river  on  the  west.  Towards  sundown 
Brigadier-General  Foord  marched  in  command  of  the 
2 1  St  and  25th  Madras  Infantry  from  the  transports  to 
the  city  for  the  purpose  of  holding  the  five  gates  facing 
the  bridges  over  the  moat.  Four  companies  were  placed 
on  each  of  the  four  sides  of  the  city  walls,  the  guard- 
houses were  occupied,  and  strong  patrols  were  constantly 
sent  out  during  the  night  through  the  city  and  suburbs. 
Frequent  shots  were  heard  in  all  directions,  but  there 
was  nothing  like  any  general  rising.     On  entering  the 



south  gate  of  the  city,  about  9  p.m.,  the  21st  Madras 
Infantry  were  fired  on,  and  returned  the  fire  with  section 
volleys.  The  French  and  Italian  consulates  and  the 
neighbouring  residences  of  Europeans,  near  the  south- 
west of  the  city,  were  protected  by  a  company  of  native 
troops.  Besides  the  above  precautions,  the  12th  Madras 
Infantry,  under  Colonel  Rowlandson,  posted  guards  and 
patrolled  all  night  between  B  and  C  roads  for  the  pro- 
tection of  the  suburbs.  That  night  a  celebrated  diamond 
was  stolen  by  the  ex- King's  troops  from  the  forehead  of 
the  great  image  of  Gaudama  in  the  Atumashi,  or 
"  Incomparable  "  Pagoda,  situated  to  the  north-east  of 
the  city  at  some  distance  beyond  the  British  picquets  : 
while  another  large  diamond  and  a  valuable  golden  be- 
jewelled necklace  were  also  stolen  from  the  Paydgyi,  the 
"  Great "  or  Arakan  Pagoda,  between  two  and  three 
miles  south-west  of  the  city. 

Next  day,  on  30th  November,  additional  precautions 
were  taken  for  preserving  order.  The  city  and  the 
suburbs  were  patrolled  day  and  night,  and  all  men  found 
carrying  arms  were  taken  and  delivered  to  the  Provost 
Marshal,  whose  quarters  were  at  the  southern  city  gate. 
Orders  were  issued  for  observance  in  the  case  of  in- 
cendiary fires,  and  a  committee  was  appointed  to  take 
over  and  secure  all  property  found  in  the  palace.  That 
night  the  news  of  the  almost  bloodless  victory  was  known 
in  London,  and  the  Viceroy,  Lord  Dufferin,  received  the 
congratulations  of  Her  Majesty  and  Her  Majesty's 
Government  for  the  success  with  which  the  immediate 
objects  of  the  military  expedition  had  been  attained. 

On  1st  December  a  proclamation  was  issued  notifying 
King  Thibaw's  surrender,  dethronement,  and  deporta- 
tion, and  intimating  that,  until  the  will  of  Her  Majesty 
the  Queen- Empress  was  known,  the  civil  and  military 
administration  of  the  country  was  vested  in  General 
Prendergast,  who  desired  to  carry  on  the  Government 
with  the  aid  of  such  of  the  Ministers,  Governors,  and 
other  officers  of  State  at  present  in  office  as  agreed  to 
remain  and  perform  loyal  service  to  the  British  Govern- 
ment. This  provisional  Hlutdaw,  or  Council  of  State, 
included  two  Mingyi  or  Ministers  of  State,  four  Aiwin- 



wun  or  Privy  Councillors,  and  seven  Wundauk  or  Under 
Secretaries.  Special  notification  was  made  that  the 
Pongyi  or  religious  body  would  be  protected,  and  allowed 
to  carry  on  their  religious  duties  unhindered,  and  that 
all  religious  buildings  and  their  precincts  would  be  pre- 
served, while  Buddhism  would  remain  the  national 
religion,  and  would  be  respected.  Provided  they  re- 
mained quiet  and  peaceable,  all  were  to  remain  un- 
molested ;  and  all  were  to  be  permitted  to  engage  in 
their  national  sports  and  to  follow  the  customs  of  the 
country.  The  Governors  of  districts  ( Wundauk,  Wmi), 
judges  [Nakdn),  town  magistrates  {Myook),  village 
headmen  (Tkugyi),  and  the  officers  {Bo,  Sitke),  perform- 
ing miscellaneous  military-police  duties,  were  provision- 
ally and  temporarily  retained  on  condition  that  they 
should  faithfully  discharge  their  duties  under  the  orders 
of  the  British  civil  officers,  and  should  do  their  utmost  to 
suppress  crime,  allay  public  anxiety,  and  pacify  the 
towns  and  villages  under  their  charge.  Dacoits,  robbers, 
and  vagrants  were  to  be  arrested  and  sent  to  the  British 
civil  officer.  The  administration  of  the  country  being 
thus  temporarily  vested  in  the  Hlutdaw  or  State  Council 
of  Burmese  Ministers  and  officials,  under  the  presidency 
of  Colonel  Sladen  and  under  the  orders  and  control  of 
General  Prendergast,  their  first  act  was  to  proclaim  a 
general  disarmament  of  the  civil  population.  None 
except  members  of  the  Council  and  its  staff  were  allowed 
to  possess  other  arms  than  the  common  Da  or  bill,  in 
ordinary  use  for  all  domestic,  agricultural,  and  forest 
purposes,  unless  they  received  special  passes.  The 
inhabitants  of  Mandalay  and  its  suburbs  were  called 
upon  to  deliver  up  at  once,  at  any  one  of  the  twelve 
gates  of  the  city,  or  of  the  four  gates  of  the  palace 
enclosure,  or  at  one  or  other  of  the  several  criminal 
courts  or  guard-houses,  any  muskets,  swords,  spears,  and 
the  like  in  their  possession.  Any  one  found  disobeying 
this  order  and  retaining  arms  in  his  possession  was  to 
be  seized,  and  would  be  liable  to  be  shot.  Many  arms 
were  given  up  ;  but  nothing  like  all  of  them.  Encamp- 
ments of  British  troops  were  formed  round  the  city,  and 
guards  were  placed  around  the  gun  and  powder  factories 

97  H 


and  the  royal  workshops.  In  the  gun  and  rifle  factories 
much  valuable  machinery  of  Swiss  manufacture  was  found, 
and  ten  submarine  mines  in  course  of  construction.  The 
night  passed  quietly  in  the  city,  and  tranquillity  appeared 
to  be  established.  A  number  of  robbers  were  caught 
red-handed  and  made  over  to  the  Provost-Marshal,  some 
being  shot  and  others  flogged. 

Being  interviewed  by  Colonel  Sladen  on  3rd  Decem- 
ber, the  Thdthandbaing  or  Buddhist  Archbishop  promised 
to  assist  the  British  authority,  and  sent  out  proclamations 
to  all  the  Pongyi  or  heads  of  monasteries  throughout  the 
country  enjoining  them  to  support  all  notifications  coming 
from  the  Hlutdaw  under  General  Prendergast's  orders. 

On  7th  December  five  Princes  and  two  Princesses, 
children  of  the  Mindat  Prince — who,  being  the  heir 
apparent  nominated  to  succeed  his  brother  King  Mindon 
on  the  throne,  was  assassinated  when  the  Myingun 
Prince  attempted  to  kill  his  father  also  and  seize  the 
throne  in  1866 — were,  at  their  own  request  and  that  of 
the  Hlutdaw,  deported  to  Rangoon,  after  being  relieved 
from  their  imprisonment  endured  throughout  the  whole 
of  Thibaw's  reign.  On  the  8th  the  royal  albino  elephant, 
figuring  in  all  royal  proclamations  as  a  true  Sadddn 
or  white  elephant  of  miraculous  powers,  died  in  the 
palace  of  colic,  and  was  dragged  by  parties  of  the 
Hampshire  Regiment,  the  Hazara  Mountain  Battery,  and 
transport  coolies  out  of  the  palace  and  through  the  city 
to  the  royal  burial-ground  north  of  C  road,  where  a  grave 
had  been  prepared  for  it  by  the  Burmese.  The  actual  and 
very  real  importance  of  this  death,  and  of  the  ignominious 
treatment  of  the  carcase,  can  only  be  appreciated  when 
the  childish  superstition  of  the  Burmese,  individually  and 
nationally,  is  understood. 

On  loth  December  the  headquarters  of  the  Burma  field 
force  were  established  in  the  palace,  and  on  the  15th  Mr. 
Bernard,  Chief  Commissioner  of  British  Burma,  arrived 
with  a  small  staff  from  Rangoon  in  order  to  concert 
administrative  measures  till  the  final  policy  of  the  British 
Government  could  be  declared.  Throughout  the  whole 
of  this  month  armed  parties  were  scouring  the  country 
round  about  Mandalay  in  search  of  Thibaw's  disbanded 



soldiery  and  of  men  in  possession  of  arms  ;  movable 
columns  were  operating  against  the  bands  of  dacoits,  often 
large  in  number,  formed  of  the  runaway  royal  troops, 
while  the  garrisons  left  at  Minhla,  Pagan,  Myingyan,  Ava, 
and  Sagaing  were  all  busily  engaged  in  operating  against 
the  dacoits  infesting  every  district,  and  in  endeavouring 
to  assist  the  civil  officers  left  at  the  three  first- named 
places  in  introducing  something  like  decent  adminis- 

The  military  situation  remained  unchanged.  There 
was  no  comprehensively  organized  armed  resistance  to 
authority ;  but  bands  of  dacoits  overran  the  country  in 
all  directions,  and  every  possible  opportunity  was  taken 
to  harass  them  and  to  destroy  or  capture  them.  The 
telegraph  line  to  the  frontier  was  constantly  being  inter- 
rupted, and  the  wires  cut  again  as  soon  as  repaired.  No 
communication  had  yet  been  established  with  Bhamo,  as 
British  authority  was  only  recognized  as  far  as  gunboats 
had  gone  up  the  river,  that  is,  for  fifty  miles  north  of  Man- 
dalay.  Accordingly,  on  19th  December,  General  Pren- 
dergast  went  with  a  strong  force  up  the  river  to  Bhamo, 
a  detachment  from  which  occupied  Shwebo.  The 
Governor  of  Shwebo  sent  in  his  second  and  third  sons  in 
token  of  submission,  and  also  a  pretender  to  the  throne 
whom  he  had  captured.  Various  other  local  authorities 
gave  in  their  adherence  ;  but  the  Sawbwa  of  Wuntho, 
an  influential  Shan  chief,  refused  to  recognize  the  British 
authority,  and  had  to  be  dealt  with  later  on.  The 
notorious  Taingda  Mingy i,  who  was  responsible  for 
much  of  the  misgovernment  during  Thibaw's  reign,  and 
was  known  to  be  very  hostile  to  the  British,  was  also 
transferred  temporarily  to  India.  He  died  in  Rangoon 
on  31st  May,  1896. 

On  19th  December  an  expedition  was  also  sent  up 
the  Chindwin  river,  whence  news  had  been  received 
of  the  murder  of  three  of  the  Bombay-Burma  Cor- 
poration's European  employes,  in  order  to  join  hands 
with  another  column  marching  down  from  Manipur. 
On  General  Prendergast's  arrival  at  Bhamo  on  28th 
December  he  found  the  town  almost  deserted  ;  but 
the    people,     on    being    reassured,    soon     returned    to 



their  houses.  The  country  along  the  river  banks  was 
quiet,  and  the  people  generally  expressed  pleasure  at 
the  advent  of  the  British.  The  Governor  of  Bhamo 
made  a  ready  submission,  and  requested  that  his  troops 
should  be  disarmed  and  disbanded.  Although  an  im- 
portant emporium  of  trade  with  Yunnan,  Bhamo  was  only 
a  small  town  of  about  5,000  inhabitants — a  motley  mixture 
of  Burmese,  Chinese,  Shan  and  Kachin.  Situated  on 
the  left  bank  of  the  Irrawaddy,  just  below  where  this 
receives  the  Taiping  river  from  the  east,  its  northern, 
eastern  and  southern  sides  were  protected  by  a  stockade 
of  teak  posts  about  fourteen  or  fifteen  feet  in  height.  No 
Chinese  troops  were  found  in  the  vicinity,  and  there  was 
no  reason  to  anticipate  unfriendly  operations  on  the  part  of 
the  Chinese.  Only  the  usual  small  garrison  was  stationed 
at  Momein,  beyond  the  frontier.  After  being  a  week 
at  Bhamo  General  Prendergast  returned  to  Mandalay, 
leaving  Brigadier- General  Norman  behind  in  charge  of 
a  strong  force,  and  also  a  civil  officer  to  organize  adminis- 
tration, with  the  support  of  the  military. 

The  lawlessness  and  disorder  prevailing  in  Upper 
Burma  had  meanwhile  communicated  itself  partially  to 
Lower  Burma.  In  the  Shwegyin  district  the  Mayan 
Chaung  Pongyi,  a  Shan  priest,  preferring  to  act  under 
orders  from  Thibaw,  raised  a  following  of  about  500 
men.  Troops  from  Rangoon  and  Toungoo  managed  to 
scatter  this  little  army,  but  it  was  long  before  the  smaller 
bands  thus  formed  were  completely  suppressed  and  the 
priest  captured.  On  Christmas  day  Colonel  Street, 
Commissioner  of  Pegu,  with  a  small  body  of  sepoys  and 
police,  had  a  pitched  battle  with  a  body  of  about  150 
men  marching  on  Pegu  from  the  south  with  flags  and 
golden  umbrellas.  Twenty  of  them  were  left  dead  on 
the  field.  But  for  this  timely  check  the  flam.e  of  in- 
surrection would  have  spread  like  wildfire  throughout 
the  whole  of  Lower  Burma.  As  it  was,  the  early  months 
of  1886  brought  with  them,  in  sympathy  with  the  excited 
condition  of  Upper  Burma,  a  vast  increase  beyond  the 
usual  tales  of  dacoities  committed  throughout  the  southern 

On  ist  January,  1886,  a  proclamation  was  issued  by 



Lord  Dufferin  that  the  territories  formerly  governed  by 
King  Thibaw  had  become  part  of  the  British  dominions, 
and  would,  during  Her  Majesty's  pleasure,  be  administered 
by  such  officers  as  the  Viceroy  might  from  time  to  time 
appoint.^  The  immediate  objects  of  General  Prender- 
gast's  expedition  had  thus  been  accomplished  thoroughly 
and  completely,  and  almost  bloodlessly.  Even  up  to  the 
23rd  of  February,  1886,  the  number  of  those  who  died 
on  the  field,  or  from  their  wounds,  amounted  to  only 
four  British  officers,  seven  British  privates,  and  ten  native 
soldiers.  But  it  was  well  known  that  this  was  merely  the 
preliminary  towards  the  serious  work  of  pacification 
which  had  now  to  be  faced  and  carried  through. 

Though  nothing  like  so  large  in  area  or  in  population, 
and  though  much  more  accessible,  the  work  of  pacifying 
the  province  of  Pegu,  conquered  in  1852-53,  continued 
for  about  eight  years  before  the  newly  acquired  territory 
entered  fairly  on  the  path  of  peace  and  contentment. 
Though  carried  out  with  the  strong  support  of  a  very 
large  military  force  of  local  levies,  and  of  gunboats  which 
could  operate  throughout  the  network  of  tidal  streams 
forming  the  delta  of  the  Irrawaddy,  and  with  a  vigour 
which  exposed  Sir  Arthur  Phayre  to  charges  of  excessive 
measures  brought  against  him  in  Parliament,  yet  at  the 
end  of  the  first  year  of  the  occupation  large  districts  were 
still  in  the  hands  of  insurgents  and  robber  bands.  At 
the  end  of  the  second  year  great  armed  bands  were  still 
at  large,  and  vast  tracts  remained  into  which  British 
influence  had  not  yet  extended.  During  the  third  and 
the  following  years  parts  of  the  new  territory  were  still 
much  disturbed,  and  it  was  not  until  1861  that  the  paci- 
fication could  be  considered  effected.     But  for  the  Indian 

^  This  proclamation,  dated  ist  January,  1886,  is  probably  unique  in 
its  terseness  among  historical  documents  referring  to  the  annexation  of 
large  territories.     It  was  as  follows  : — 

"  By  Command  of  the  Queen-Empress  it  is  hereby  notified  that  the 
territories  governed  by  King  Theebaw  will  no  longer  be  under  his  rule, 
but  have  become  part  of  Her  Majesty's  dominions,  and  will  during  Her 
Majesty's  pleasure  be  administered  by  such  officers  as  the  Viceroy  and 
Governor-General  of  India  may  from  time  to  time  appoint. 

"(Signed)  Dufferin." 


Mutiny,  in  1857,  the  work  of  pacification  would  no  doubt 
have  been  much  more  rapidly  effected. 

The  new  territory  that  was  now,  on  ist  January,  1886, 
incorporated  into  the  British  dominions  had  an  area 
of  about  120,000  miles,  and  a  population  estimated  at 
about  three  and  a  half  millions.  A  considerable  portion 
of  this  vast  expanse  was  inpenetrable  jungle  of  tree- forest 
or  scrub,  and  even  in  the  least  sparsely  populated  districts 
there  were  no  proper  roads  or  bridges.  During  the 
rainy  season  the  difficulties  of  communication  were  much 
increased  by  the  sudden  rise  of  the  rivers,  and  of  the 
numerous  streams  intersecting  the  country  in  all  directions. 
Large  tracts  of  country  often  remained  under  water  for 
weeks  at  a  time.  Though  not  a  warlike  race,  the 
Burmese  had  a  traditional  and  hereditary  love  of  desul- 
tory fighting,  raiding,  gang  robbery,  and  the  like  ;  and 
their  inordinate  national  vanity  preserved  vivid  recollec- 
tions of  the  time  when  they  were  a  conquering  race, 
driving  the  Shan,  Kachin,  and  Assamese  into  the  hills. 
Villages  had  long-standing  feuds  with  other  villages,  and 
the  gangs  of  robbers  mixed  up  In  these  were  recruited 
from  time  to  time  by  the  young  bloods  from  the  villages 
concerned.  After  a  time  such  young  men  went  back  to 
their  usual  occupations  ;  but  those  who  liked  the  hard, 
lawless  life  under  a  dacolt  Bo  could  easily  take  to  it 
permanently  as  partisans  of  one  or  other  of  the  profes- 
sional bandits  who  were  usually  in  open  revolt  against 
the  sovereign.  This  had  been  the  case  under  all  the 
Burmese  kings,  and  King  Thibaw  had  proved  himself  to 
be  below  the  average  of  Burmese  sovereigns  in  adminis- 
trative capacity.  One  of  the  most  notorious  and  formid- 
able of  these  bandit  chiefs.  Bo  Shwe,  had  for  about  twelve 
or  thirteen  years  back  been  defying  with  impunity  the 
authorities  of  Mandalay  and  levying  blackmail  from  the 
southern  districts. 

These  various  difficulties  arising  from  the  nature  of 
the  country,  the  character  of  the  people,  and  the  existing 
political  organization,  were  rather  Increased  than  lessened 
by  the  suddenness  of  Thibaw's  overthrow.  When  the 
plan  of  campaign,  matured  years  before  in  Simla,  had 
been  almost  bloodlessly  carried  through  in  a  fortnight, 



it  was  found  that  the  raw  and  undiscipHned  levies  hastily 
called  out  to  oppose  our  advance  had  dissolved  and 
spread  themselves  over  the  country  in  small  lawless 
bands.  The  very  ease  with  which  Mandalay  was  taken 
and  the  King  was  deposed  tended  greatly  to  retard  the 
work  of  permanent  pacification.  Had  there  been  any- 
thing like  a  national  army,  its  overthrow  might  have 
cost  much  bloodshed  at  the  outset ;  but,  once  its  opposi- 
tion had  been  overcome,  this  would  have  swept  away 
the  main  difficulties  and  left  a  free  stage  for  the  intro- 
duction of  a  better  organized  system  of  administration, 
so  that  troops,  treasure,  and  time  would  have  been  saved 
in  the  long  run. 

Aware  of  these  peculiar  difficulties,  conscious  of  the 
state  of  anarchy  which  existed  under  Thibaw's  rule,  and 
knowing  the  experiences  in  Pegu  a  generation  before, 
the  Government  of  India  quite  understood  the  gravity 
of  the  situation  as  well  as  the  magnitude  of  the  task 
before  them  in  undertaking  the  pacification  of  the  new 
territories.  It  was  felt  that  the  necessary  measures 
towards  this  end  could  only  be  satisfactorily  concerted 
on  the  spot  in  communication  with  those  having  local 
knowledge  and  experience ;  hence  the  Viceroy  and  the 
Commander-in-Chief  (Sir  Frederick  Roberts,  V.C.)  took 
the  earliest  opportunity  of  proceeding  to  Burma  in  order 
to  draw  up  schemes  for  the  future  administration  of  the 
country  and  for  the  further  military  operations  still 
requisite  before  a  stable  form  of  Government  could  be 

Until  future  measures  could  thus  be  decided  on  British 
civil  officers,  supported  by  troops,  were  in  command  of 
each  of  the  five  districts,  Mandalay,  Myingyan,  Pagdn, 
Minhla,  and  Ningyan,  and  were  working  through  the 
Burmese  District  Governors  and  headmen.  The  civil 
and  ordinary  criminal  jurisdiction  was  in  the  hands  of 
these  civil  officers,  except  where  troops  were  stationed 
or  operating,  when,  the  country  being  still  under  military 
occupation,  the  Provost- Marshal's  officers  exercised  some 
jurisdiction.  Outside  of  these  five  districts  the  rest  of 
the  country  was  nominally  governed  by  the  Hhitdaw  or 
State    Council,    presided   over  by  Colonel  Sladen ;  but 



for  various  reasons  the  orders  and  influence  of  this  Hlut 
carried  little  weight  into  the  interior  of  these  central 
and  northern  districts.  In  some  places  the  ordinary  local 
officials  succeeded  in  enforcing  partial  order,  but  the 
country  at  large  was  in  a  state  of  anarchy  and  dis- 
organization. At  Ava,  Sagaing,  Shwebo,  Tagaung, 
Myadaung,  and  Bhamo,  on  the  Irrawaddy,  and  at  some 
points  on  the  Chindwin  river,  military  detachments  were 
stationed  with  civil  officers  in  attendance,  so  that  the 
whole  of  the  districts  which  had  been  actually  ruled  by 
Thibaw  were  held  in  military  occupation. 

Though  Upper  Burma  was  now  annexed  to  the 
British  dominions,  it  had  not  yet  been  incorporated  with 
British  India ;  hence  Indian  codes  did  not  apply.  The 
civil  officers  were  instructed,  however,  to  proceed  in 
criminal  cases  on  the  lines  of  the  Indian  codes,  except 
that  dacoity  or  gang  robbery  might  be  punishable  with 
death,  that  flogging  was  to  be  administered  in  place  of 
imprisonment  on  petty  offenders  physically  fit  for  receiv- 
ing such  punishment,  and  that  no  appeal  lay  from 
criminal  sentences.  Rebels  in  arms  captured  on  the 
field  were  liable  to  be  shot,  but  the  death  penalty  was 
not  to  be  enforced  by  civil  officers  otherwise  than  after 


Chapter  V 

THE  PACIFICATION  OF  UPPER  BURMA  (1886  to  1890) 

WHEN  Lord  Dufferin  and  Sir  Frederick  Roberts 
were  in  Mandalay,  from  12th  to  19th  February, 
1886,  the  importance  of  the  matters  requiring  considera- 
tion was  only  equalled  by  the  difficulties  connected  with 
them.  During  the  seven  years  of  Thibaw's  weak  and 
incompetent  rule  dacoity  had  been  permitted  to  over- 
spread the  country ;  while  the  melting  away  of  the 
Burmese  army  on  the  British  approach  both  strengthened 
the  dacoit  gangs  already  in  existence,  and  formed  the 
nuclei  of  fresh  gangs  of  armed  men  in  many  cases 
engaging  in  organized  opposition  to  the  new  Govern- 
ment. The  main  problems  the  Viceroy  had  to  consider 
first  of  all  were  whether  the  new  dominions  should  form 
a  protected  State  under  the  Indian  Government,  or  be 
annexed  outright  and  brought  directly  under  the  British 
administration,  and  how  good  government  could  most 
effectively  and  cheaply  be  introduced  ;  while  the  Com- 
mander-in-Chief had  to  formulate  the  plan  of  military 
operations,  still  necessary  under  any  circumstances,  and 
on  a  largely  increased  scale,  for  the  pacification  of  the 
country  in  the  event  of  annexation  outright  being 
decided  on. 

Lord  Dufferin's  personal  desire  was  that  Upper 
Burma  should  be  converted  into  a  protected  or  "buffer" 
State  like  Afghanistan,  the  ruling  Prince  being  left 
perfectly  independent  in  matters  of  internal  administra-. 
tion,  while  the  Government  of  India  would  have  exercised 
the  right  of  supervising  all  external  relations.  But,  on 
closer  consideration  after  hearing  the  opinions  of  the 
civil  and  military  authorities  in  Burma,  he  found  the 
country  so  disorganized,  the  State  Council   and  Ministry 



so  discredited  and  lacking  in  influence,  and  the  chance 
of  finding  suitable  candidates  for  the  throne  among  the 
Princes  of  the  royal  line  so  slight  as  to  admit  of  no 
possible  rational  alternative  to  direct  administration  of 
the  country  by  the  Government  of  India.  No  Prince 
who  might  be  placed  on  the  throne  would  have  been 
able,  without  great  assistance  from  British  troops,  to 
maintain  his  authority  with  any  prospect  of  success 
against  the  numerous  rivals  who  would  be  sure  to  rise 
up  against  him.  Within  a  short  time  of  Thibaw's  down- 
fall there  were  five  such  Princes,  besides  other  pretenders 
to  the  throne,  wandering  about  the  jungles  with  small 
parties  of  followers.  To  keep  on  the  throne  a  puppet 
ruler  would  have  landed  the  Government  of  India  in 
responsibilities  almost  as  great  as  actual  administration, 
while  the  intrigues,  procrastinations,  and  slights  of  a 
Burmese  ruler  would  probably  soon  again  have  become 
insupportable.  It  would  have  been  beyond  reasonable 
hope  to  secure  a  stable  form  of  Burmese  Government, 
which  would  gradually  establish  and  maintain  tran- 
quillity and  fairly  good  administration,  and  which  would 
at  the  same  time  effectually  exclude  from  the  upper 
valley  of  the  Irrawaddy  undesirable  foreign  influences 
likely  to  produce  at  some  future  date  the  gravest  political 
consequences.  The  Nyaungyan  Prince  had  recently 
died,  and  his  younger  brother,  the  Nyaungok,  still 
under  British  surveillance  in  Bengal,  was  disobedient 
to  orders,  unpopular  in  Burma,  and  otherwise  unsatis- 
factory. The  Myingun  Prince  who  fled  in  1866  to  a 
British  asylum  after  attempting  his  father's  life  and 
killing  the  heir  apparent,  his  uncle,  and  then,  about  the 
time  of  Thibaw's  accession  in  1878,  had  escaped  to 
Pondicherry,  whence  he  tried  to  carry  on  intrigues, 
might  perhaps,  if  put  on  the  throne,  have  held  his  own 
by  killing  off  his  rivals  ;  but  he  would  have  been  almost 
certain  to  have  given  trouble  by  falling  into  the  hands 
of  foreign  adventurers  and  concessionaries.  Hence 
Lord  Dufferin  decided  to  recommend  the  pure  and 
simple  incorporation  of  Upper  Burma  with  the  Indian 
Empire,  and  the  British  Government  at  once  (i6th 
February,  1886),  acquiesced  in  the  recommendation  and 



authorized  him  to  proceed  with  the  direct  administration 
of  the  country. 

The  attempt  to  restore  order  and  to  govern  through 
the  Hlutdaw,  or  Council  of  State,  was  proving  a  failure. 
Even  the  best  of  the  Ministers,  who  had  so  ignominiously 
failed  to  manage  the  country  efficiently  under  King 
Thibaw,  had  little  influence,  and  could  not  be  relied  on 
to  use  that  little,  under  the  new  circumstances  in  which 
they  were  called  upon  to  act.  It  was  therefore  deter- 
mined to  abolish  the  Hlutdaw,  and  to  make  use  of  only 
a  selected  few  of  the  Ministers  merely  as  a  consultative 
body  to  be  associated  with  the  Chief  Commissioner,  in 
order  that  reference  might  be  made  to  them,  as  occasion 
might  arise,  on  points  connected  with  the  late  administra- 
tion. This  was  rather  a  matter  of  policy,  to  attach  the 
more  influential  members  of  the  late  Ministry  to  the  new 
Government,  and  to  show  consideration  to  the  more 
deserving  of  the  ex-King's  servants,  than  an  actual  need 
for  administrative  assistance.  Two  of  the  members  of  the 
State  Council,  the  Kinwun  Mingyi,  or  Prime  Minister, 
and  the  Taunggwin  Mingyi,  two  of  the  Privy  Councillors, 
the  Pin  Atwinwun,  and  the  Shwedaik  Atwinwun,  and 
one  Assistant  Minister,  the  Tabayin  Wundauk,  were  thus 
retained  on  salaries  varying  from  rupees  500  to  1,000 
per  mensem  (^^400  to  ^800  a  year)  ;  while  small  pensions 
were  bestowed  on  some  of  the  other  ex- Ministers. 

It  was  first  of  all  found  necessary  to  substitute  for  the 
existing  arbitrary  powers  of  the  Viceroy  an  order  in 
Council  under  anno  33  Vict.  cap.  3,  sec.  i,  extending 
that  section  to  the  whole  of  Upper  Burma  except  the 
Shan  States.  It  thus  became  a  scheduled  district 
removed  from  the  operation  of  the  statute  law  applying 
to  the  rest  of  the  Indian  Empire.  This  enabled  the 
local  administration  of  Burma  to  frame  simple  Regulations 
with  the  approval  of  the  Government  of  India,  suitable 
to  cope  with  the  actual  state  of  affairs.  These  Regula- 
tions differed  from  Acts  in  being  issued  by  the  Governor- 
General  In  Council,  Instead  of  being  passed  by  the 
Legislative  Council  of  the  Government  of  India;  but  In 
their  effect  there  was  no  practical  difference  between  the 
two.    Mr.  Bernard,  Chief  Commissioner  of  British  Burma, 



was  placed  in  charge  of  the  whole  of  Burma,  which  was 
consolidated  into  a  Chief  Commissionership  in  Sep- 
tember, 1886;  while  Mr.  Hodgkinson,  one  of  the 
Commisioners,  acted  as  his  Assistant  in  charge  of  Lower 
Burma.  Upper  Burma  was  divided  into  fourteen 
districts,  with  British  civil  officers  and  Police  Assistants 
in  each.  At  first  there  were  to  be  no  divisional  Com- 
missioners or  sessions  Judges ;  and  district  officers  were 
to  work  through  indigenous  local  agencies,  and  according 
to  local  methods,  in  matters  of  revenue  and  civil  justice. 
The  village  community  system  was  thus  retained  as 
being  thoroughly  in  accordanc°:  with  the  customs  of  the 
country  and  least  likely  to  be  irksome  or  to  disturb  the 
people,  before  the  stability  of  the  new  administration 
was  felt  and  appreciated  by  the  population  at  large. 
Under  this  new  system  room  was  also  found  for  the 
best  of  the  old  Burmese  officials.  Many  of  these,  far 
truer  patriots  than  the  princely  pretenders  and  the 
brigand  chiefs  who  carried  fire  and  sword  into  all  parts 
of  the  newly  conquered  territories,  in  pursuit  of  no 
definite  policy  and  no  political  aim,  rendered  valuable 
services  to  the  cause  of  peace,  and  too  often  had  to  pay 
for  their  loyalty  with  their  lives.  The  Shan  States  were 
to  be  treated  as  feudatory  or  tributary  States,  without 
attempting  to  bring  them  under  any  direct  administrative 

The  Commander-in-Chief  was  at  first  inclined  to 
recommend  some  reduction  in  the  military  force ;  but 
after  mature  consideration  had  been  given  to  the  subject, 
it  was  decided  to  send  back  one  Madras  regiment  to 
India,  and  to  move  down  two  Ghurka  regiments  from 
Assam  for  work  in  the  hilly  districts. 

The  Upper  and  Lower  Burma  commands  were  united 
under  General  Prendergast,  with  headquarters  at  Ran- 
goon, while  the  headquarters  of  two  brigades  were 
located  at  Mandalay  (General  White)  and  Bhamo 
(General  Norman).  As  troops  had  been  drawn  from  all 
the  three  Presidencies  of  India,  the  military  administra- 
tion of  Burma  was  for  the  time  being  placed  under  the 
Commander-in-Chief  On  31st  March  General  Prender- 
gast vacated  the  command  of  the  forces  in  Burma  and 



the  troops  in  Upper  Burma  were  formed  into  a  separate 
command  under  Brigadier- General  White,  who  received 
the  local  rank  of  Major- General. 

That  a  prolonged  struggle  was  anticipated  is  clear 
from  Sir  Frederick  Roberts'  recommendation  that 
free  passages  from  India  to  England  should  be  given 
to  the  wives  and  families  of  all  military  officers  detained 
on  field  service  in  Burma,  and  that  large  rewards  should 
be  paid  to  all  officers  and  soldiers,  European  or  native, 
who  learned  sufficient  Burmese  to  pass  easy  examina- 
tions in  the  language.  Nor  were  the  wives  of  civil 
officers  permitted  to  reside  with  their  husbands  during 
the  most  troublous  period. 

Without  attempting  to  dictate  subordinate  military 
arrangements  from  Calcutta  and  Simla,  the  Government 
of  India  urged  the  desirability  of  first  thoroughly  domin- 
ating the  central  area  close  to  the  main  arteries  of 
communication,  and  thence  gradually  extending  adminis- 
tration and  jurisdiction  according  to  the  means  at 
disposal  and  the  opportunities  occurring.  The  despatch 
of  spasmodic  and  disconnected  expeditions  into  tracts 
which  could  not  be  at  once  permanently  occupied  and 
protected  was  deprecated.  Such  a  method  of  procedure 
could  only  disquiet  and  compromise  peaceable  and  well- 
disposed  villages,  because,  if  they  showed  themselves  at 
all  friendly  to  the  military  detachments  visiting  them, 
this  only  exposed  them  to  subsequent  ill-treatment  and 
plunder  at  the  hands  of  rebels  and  dacoits  as  soon  as 
the  British  force  had  left.  The  difficulties  and  dangers 
to  health  unavoidable  during  the  hot  months  of  April 
and  May  were  also  humanely  pointed  out,  and  recom- 
mendations were  made  to  move  the  troops  about  as  little 
as  possible  during  the  hottest  time  of  the  year,  and  to 
locate  them  as  healthily  as  possible  during  the  approach- 
ing rainy  season,  even  though  this  might  for  the  moment 
retard  the  progress  of  operations. 

In  accordance  with  these  instructions,  British  authority 
was  first  confined  to  the  tracts  bordering  the  Irrawaddy, 
to  the  country  around  Mandalay  and  Bhamo,  and  to  the 
southern  frontier  districts  of  Minhla  and  Ningyan. 
Military  posts  were  distributed  in  different  localities,  and 



small  movable  columns  were  organized,  capable  of 
marching  in  whatever  direction  circumstances  required. 
When  in  Mandalay,  Sir  Frederick  Roberts  laid  down  a 
minimum  strength  for  each  post  and  column,  and  the 
judiciousness  of  these  arrangements  was  proved  by  the 
fact  of  no  post  being  forced.  Although  there  was  no 
regular  well-organized  enemy  in  the  field,  and  therefore 
no  particular  objective  requiring  the  concentration  of 
large  masses  of  troops,  yet  the  country  was  generally 
overrun  with  armed  bands.  Five  scions  of  the  royal 
line  were  pushing  their  claims  to  the  throne  in  different 
localities.  The  Myinzaing  Prince,  a  son  of  Mindon, 
held  the  Natteik  pass  into  the  Shan  hills,  and  harried 
the  plains  lying  to  the  south-east  of  Mandalay  ;  while 
a  pretender  calling  himself  the  Kyimyin  Prince  was 
troubling  the  districts  to  the  south  of  that,  as  far  as  the 
Toungoo  frontier.  At  Chaungwa,  in  the  Ava  district, 
the  Chaungwa  Princes,  Yan  Naing  and  Yan  Baing, 
whose  father  was  massacred  in  1879  by  Thibaw,  were 
endeavouring  to  assert  themselves  ;  while  Prince  Maung 
Hmat  Gyi,  a  son  of  the  heir  apparent  killed  in  1866, 
had  a  large  following  in  the  Shwebo  and  Yeii  districts, 
north-east  of  Mandalay.  Numerous  dacoit  leaders  had 
become  nominal  supporters  of  these  pretenders,  plunder- 
ing villages  and  levying  blackmail  in  their  names.  Some 
of  the  dacoit  Bo  even  went  the  length  of  themselves 
becoming  pretenders  to  the  throne.  Bo  Shwe,  who  had 
been  harrying  the  Minbu  and  Minhla  districts  for  the 
last  twelve  or  thirteen  years,  boldly  proclaimed  himself 
King  of  Minbu,  and  appointed  a  Governor  of  the  river. 
The  most  influential  of  the  other  dacoit  Bo  at  this  time 
were  Nga  Hlau,  who  had  for  years  harried  the  districts 
between  the  Irrawaddy  and  the  Mu  river,  north-west  of 
Mandalay,  the  Thondatin  Thugyi,  Maung  Min  Po,  in 
the  Pindali  district,  U  Paung  in  Meiktila,  and  Budda 
Yaza  in  Ningyan.  The  Myinzaing  Prince  even  offered 
a  reward  of  2,000  rupees  for  the  head  of  Sir  Charles 
Bernard,  the  Chief  Commissioner,  and  threatened  to  burn 
the  palace  in  Mandalay,  which  was  being  used  for  the 
public  offices  and  the  residences  of  the  civil  and  military 
headquarters'  staffs. 



Incendiarism  had  become  rife.  Early  in  April  several 
fires  occurred  in  the  more  crowded  suburbs  of  Mandalay 
city,  and  other  fires  broke  out  in  the  city  itself  about  the 
middle  of  the  month,  at  which  date  the  Burmese  New 
Year  happened  to  fall  in  1886.  About  800  houses 
within  the  city,  and  between  2,000  and  2,500  in  the 
suburbs  were  thus  destroyed,  chiefly  by  some  thirty  to 
forty  adherents  of  the  Myingun  Prince,  who  made  an 
organized  outbreak  and  rushed  one  of  the  town  police 
stations.  The  citizens  appeared  to  be  demoralized  for 
the  moment,  the  shops  and  bazaars  were  closed,  and 
business  generally  was  at  a  standstill.  PVom  April 
onwards  large  bodies  of  armed  men  harassed  the  whole 
of  the  districts  around  the  capital  and  all  the  principal 
towns,  and  before  the  close  of  the  rainy  season  it  had 
become  very  apparent  that  it  was  necessary  to  consider- 
ably strengthen  the  troops  in  Burma.  Hardly  a  day 
passed  without  a  skirmish  taking  place  in  some  part  of 
the  country  ;  and  the  guerilla  system  of  warfare  adopted 
by  them  gave  great  advantages  to  the  rebels  and 

General  White  soon  found,  from  the  experiences 
around  Mandalay,  that  mere  visits  from  flying  columns 
to  different  parts  of  the  country  were  quite  insufficient 
to  maintain  British  supremacy,  and  that  for  the  pacifica- 
tion of  the  country  and  the  suppression  of  dacoity 
or  other  armed  resistance,  it  was  necessary  to  closely 
occupy  the  country  by  establishing  strong  military  posts 
in  each  of  the  various  districts  of  sufficient  strength  to 
maintain  order  in  their  immediate  neighbourhood,  and  to 
afford  contingents  for  flying  columns  to  skirmish  against 
rebel  bands.  It  was  only  when  they  saw  the  troops,  and 
felt  they  could  rely  on  their  protection,  that  villagers 
could  be  expected  to  give  information  or  assistance 
against  the  rebel  bands  and  dacoit  gangs.  It  was  only 
thus  that  military  ascendancy  and  prestige  could  be 
secured,  the  main  lines  of  communication  by  land  and 
water  protected,  civil  authority  and  administration  estab- 
lished, and  the  population  encouraged  to  render  assist- 
ance. In  addition  to  posts  along  the  Irrawaddy,  others 
were  established  along  the  route  from  Mandalay  to  Toun- 



goo.  and  from  Toungoo  across  the  hills  to  Thayetmyo  ; 
and  the  central  part  of  Upper  Burma  was  thus  enclosed 
in  a  roughly  triangular  series  of  strongholds  forming  bases 
from  which  the  further  military  operations  were  under- 
taken. Near  the  eastern  base  line  the  construction  of  a 
railway  was  being  pushed  on  from  Toungoo  to  Mandalay, 
and  with  great  success  and  rapidity  under  circumstances 
of  unusual  difficulty  and  danger. 

The  expenditure  on  public  works  was  intended  to  be 
limited  at  first  to  barracks,  obligatory  military  roads, 
and  telegraph  repairs  and  construction  ;  but  the  great 
importance  of  continuing  the  Rangoon-Toungoo  railway 
line  to  Mandalay  was  recognized  and  urged  both  on 
political  and  military  grounds.  The  Secretary  of  State 
suggested  that,  in  the  meantime,  it  might  be  more 
advantageous  to  make  good  roads,  passable  at  all 
seasons,  between  the  various  principal  civil  and  mili- 
tary stations.  The  arguments  placed  before  the 
Government  of  India  by  Sir  Charles  Bernard,  Chief 
Commissioner  of  Burma,  were,  however,  so  convincing 
that  sanction  was  given  to  commence  construction  in  the 
autumn  of  1886.  It  was  successfully  urged  by  him  that 
a  trunk  road  would  be  costly  and  unremunerative,  that 
the  expense  of  moving  troops  and  supplies  would  be 
five  times  as  great  by  road  as  by  rail,  while  the  time 
occupied  would  be  ten  times  as  long,  and  that,  in  short, 
the  railway  would  be  far  more  effectual  in  pacifying  the 
country,  in  promoting  trade,  and  in  strengthening  the 
position  whether  viewed  from  a  military,  a  political,  or 
an  administrative  standpoint. 

The  position  in  Lower  Burma  had  meanwhile  become 
such  as  caused  much  uneasiness.  Partly  through  the 
emissaries  of  the  royal  Princes  pretending  to  the  throne, 
and  partly  in  sympathy  with  the  lawless  feeling  preva- 
lent within  the  newly  annexed  territories,  dacoity 
sprang  up  to  an  alarming  degree  throughout  the  older 
province.  Troops  had  therefore  also  to  be  poured  into 
Lower  Burma,  while  the  garrison  in  Upper  Burma  was 
being  strengthened.  In  the  summer  of  1886  there  were 
17,022  troops  in  Upper  Burma,  distributed  in  forty-three 
posts,  and  7,162  in  Lower  Burma,  occupying  no  less  than 



forty-seven  posts  on  the  Sittang  river,  and  the  Irrawaddy 
with  its  delta.  Everything  resembling  patriotic  senti- 
ment in  the  Burmese  had  become  united  with  the 
inherent  strain  of  brutality  and  lawlessness  running 
through  the  national  character ;  and  this  combination 
of  innate  forces  found  its  expression  in  the  bands  of 
armed  men  infesting  the  jungles  all  over  the  new 
province.  It  was  certainly  not  patriotism  pure  and 
simple,  while  it  was  equally  certainly  not  merely  dacoity 
in  the  true  meaning  of  that  word  ;  but  it  was  armed  resist- 
ance to  British  administration,  and  as  such  it  had  to  be 
put  down  with  a  heavy  hand.  Lurking  in  jungle  recesses 
almost  impenetrable  for  regular  troops,  these  armed 
bands  were  seldom  to  be  met  in  the  open  field,  though 
bold  and  sudden  in  ambushes  and  surprise  attacks  on 
military  and  police  posts.  As  a  matter  of  course  they 
were  entirely  dependent  on  villagers  for  food  and  other 
contributions,  their  demands  for  which  they  enforced  with 
such  barbarities  as  burning  and  devastating  villages, 
slaughtering  headmen,  crucifying  or  otherwise  executing 
men  suspected  of  giving  information  to  the  British,  and 
inflicting  disgusting  tortures  on  other  men  and  women. 

The  enormous  difficulties  of  contending  against  wide- 
spread revolt,  rebellion,  and  crime  of  this  sort  can  easily 
be  imagined.  It  was  necessary  to  attack  the  root  of  the 
evil  by  constantly  harassing  the  armed  bands  so  as  to 
keep  them  in  a  continuous  state  of  apprehension  and  of 
alarm,  isolate  them,  cut  them  off  from  villages  in  which 
they  had  friends  or  relatives,  and  deprive  them  of  their 
secret  supporters.  Experience  showed  that  strong 
bodies  of  insurgents,  numbering  sometimes  from  2,000 
to  4,000  men,  could  be  assembled  rapidly  and  secretly  in 
neighbourhoods  not  protected  by  military  posts.  Pillag- 
ing and  burning  wherever  they  went,  these  bands  of 
freebooters  reserved  the  refinements  of  their  cruelties 
for  those  who  had  given  assistance  or  information  against 
them.  Unless  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  British 
troops,  the  villagers  were  forced  through  terror  into 
compromise  with  the  dacoits. 

It  had  been  at  once  recognized,  however,  that  troops 
alone  could  not  suffice  for  the  work  of  pacification,  but 

113  I 


that  the  special  difficulties  in  Burma  would  be  overcome 
rather  by  the  vigorous  administration  of  civil  government 
and  by  the  creation  of  an  efficient  police  than  by  the 
employment  of  military  detachments  scattered  over  the 
face  of  the  country.  Reinforcements  of  troops  were  at 
any  time  obtainable  from  India,  but  the  available  reserve 
of  efficient  police  was  much  more  limited.  As  the 
Burmese  character  is  averse  to  discipline,  and  as  the  old 
Burmese  police  were  incapable  of  coping  with  the 
dacoits  and  rebel  bands,  no  time  was  lost  in  issuing 
orders  for  enlisting,  training,  and  sending  over  to  Burma 
a  laro-e  body  of  police  recruited  from  the  warlike  races 
of  the  Punjab  and  the  North-Western  Provinces  of  India. 
In  addition  to  2,000  volunteers  from  the  Indian  police, 
and  to  the  ordinary  native  police  force  of  Lower  Burma, 
6,530  trained  recruits  were  sent  to  Upper  and  Lower 
Burma  during  the  rainy  season  of  1886;  so  that,  with 
the  24,184  troops  already  in  Burma,  the  total  of  troops 
and  military  police  for  service  throughout  the  whole 
province  rose  to  32,720. 

The  Irrawaddy  Flotilla  Company,  which  had  rendered 
such  brilliant  assistance  in  the  advance  on  Mandalay, 
did  even  more  for  the  country  after  the  annexation  than 
before.  They  put  on  express  steamers,  without  cargo- 
flats,  to  run  once  a  week  between  Rangoon  and  Manda- 
lay. They  improved  communication  between  Mandalay 
and  Bhamo  by  running  regular  weekly  steamers.  They 
also  instituted  short  services  between  Mandalay  and 
important  points  up  and  down  the  river,  and  began  to 
ply  regularly  on  the  Chindwin  river.  For  these  new 
lines  the  Company  received  no  subsidy,  though  they 
obtained  a  large  amount  of  Government  work.  Every 
steamer  contained  a  small  guard  of  troops  or  disciplined 
police  for  protection.  A  large  flotilla  of  Government 
steamers  had  to  be  placed  on  the  rivers  to  facilitate  the 
movements  of  troops,  to  prevent  the  crossing  of  armed 
bands  of  rebels  or  dacoits,  to  keep  down  river  piracy, 
and  to  patrol  the  rivers  ;  but  the  assistance  received 
from  the  commercial  flotilla  was  indispensable. 

For  the  civil  administration  of  the  district  controlled 
by  the  military  posts  a  code  of  provisional  instructions 



was  issued  in  March,  1886.  This  was  drawn  up  in 
harmony  with  the  spirit  of  the  Indian  codes,  but  at  the 
same  time  gave  due  consideration  to  estabHshed  Burmese 
habits  and  methods  of  procedure.  On  the  whole  these 
instructions  worked  well  and  smoothly,  proving  a  great 
advance  over  the  arbitrary  method  obtaining  immediately 
after  the  annexation.  The  establishment  of  this  form  of 
just  and  simple  administration,  the  gradual  disarmament 
of  the  people,  the  opening  up  of  communications,  and 
the  encouragement  of  trade  were  relied  on,  combined 
with  the  abundant  evidences  of  armed  strength,  as  being 
the  shortest  and  the  best  way  of  attaining  the  eventual 
cessation  of  military  operations  and  the  pacification  and 
settlement  of  Upper  Burma.  These  measures  involved  a 
large  expenditure  on  the  newly-acquired  territory,  but  it 
was  borne  in  mind  that  the  rich  province  of  Pegu  did 
not  pay  its  expenses  for  the  first  eight  or  ten  years  after 
annexation.  In  August,  1886,  a  disaster  occurred  which 
tested  the  state  of  order  to  which  the  town  of  Mandalay 
had  then  been  reduced  under  firm  and  judicious  govern- 
ment. The  earthwork  embankment  protecting  the 
western  suburbs  burst  from  the  pressure  of  a  flood 
higher  than  had  been  known  for  sixty  years  past.  Much 
destruction  of  property  occurred,  and  some  loss  of  life 
resulted.  Food  was  at  once  provided  for  the  absolutely 
destitute,  and  a  regular  system  of  relief  distribution  \yas 
organized.  But  the  night  on  which  the  inundation 
occurred  passed  without  the  slightest  disturbance. 

The  troops  under  General  White  in  Upper  Burma 
during  the  summer  of  1886  were  divided  into  three 
brigades,  having  headquarters  at  Mandalay,  Bhamo,  and 
Ningyan  (now  called  Pyinmana),  near  the  Toungoo 
frontier.  The  garrison  was,  however,  further  augmented 
by  three  regiments  of  native  cavalry,  while  nearly  all  the 
corps  and  batteries  sent  in  October,  1885,  were  relieved  in 
the  autumn  of  1886,  and  the  command  of  future  operations 
was  given  to  Lieutenant-General  Sir  Herbert  Macpher- 
son,  V.C.,  Commander-in-Chief  of  the  Madras  army, 
whose  headquarters  were  to  remain  at  Mandalay  till  the 
conclusion  of  the  military  operations.  The  truth  of  the 
matter  is  that  the  resistance  encountered  had  proved  far 



more  widespread,  and  was  likely  to  be  much  more  con- 
tinuous and  obstinate,  than  was  originally  anticipated, 
even  although  enormous  difficulties  had  been  estimated 
and  prepared  for.  Wherever  rebels  mustered  strong,  if 
the  local  posts  were  not  sufficient  to  operate  against  them, 
the  necessity  had  hitherto  been  met  by  sending  troops 
from  whatever  reserve  could  best  spare  them  ;  and  this, 
of  course,  led  to  much  unsymmetrical  distribution.  On 
the  arrival  of  the  reinforcements  of  three  battalions,  flying 
columns  were  formed  on  a  larger  scale  to  supplement  the 
system  of  posts  and  form  a  stronger  reserve  in  every 
district.  To  render  these  columns  as  mobile  and  swift  as 
possible,  a  corps  of  mounted  infantry  was  formed.  Each 
district  headquarters  had  a  mounted  company  composed 
of  twenty-five  British  and  fifty  native  infantry,  which 
could  be  attached  to  the  flying  columns.  The  special  rein- 
forcements of  cavalry  were  asked  for,  as  this  had  proved 
a  very  effective  branch  of  the  force.  The  rebel  Bo  were 
always  well  mounted,  and  were  usually  the  first  to  fly 
on  the  approach  of  British  troops,  while  mere  mounted 
infantry  proved  unable  to  overtake  and  capture  them. 
But  in  a  country  where  only  ponies  are  bred,  the  cavalry 
horses  seemed  monsters  to  the  superstitious  people,  while 
the  long  reach  and  the  short  shrift  of  the  lance  paralysed 
with  fear  the  rebels  in  arms,  as  well  as  the  general 

The  opposition  to  the  British  administration  which 
was  being  felt  during  the  second  half  of  1886  was  as 
nearly  a  national  uprising  as  was  possible  among  the 
Burmese.  Of  a  population  numbering  about  three 
rnillions,  exclusive  of  the  Shan  States,  more  than  seven- 
eighths  were  agriculturists,  while  rather  more  than  half 
of  the  urban  population  was  congregated  in  the  city 
of  Mandalay  and  its  suburbs.  Throughout  the  whole  of 
the  villages  and  hamlets  on  the  plains  held  under  military 
occupation  there  was  probably  hardly  a  household  whence 
some  male  member  had  not  issued  to  join  one  or  other 
of  the  rebel  gangs,  which  were  being  hunted  down  with 
all  possible  vigour.  The  bonds  of  relationship  thus 
existing  between  rebels  and  villagers,  and  the  fear  of 
acts  of  revenge  if  information  were  given  against  dacoit 



leaders,  raised  up  a  sort  of  passive  resistance  on  the  part 
of  the  general  population,  which  rendered  it  harder  to 
effect  the  seizure  of  the  leaders  of  rebellion  and  increased 
the  difficulties  of  military  operations  in  a  country  of  itself 
offering  physical  obstacles  of  unusual  difficulty. 

The  reliefs  and  reinforcements  for  the  Burma  field 
force  were  carried  out  towards  the  end  of  the  summer 
rains  in  1886,  and  Sir  Herbert  Macpherson  assumed  the 
supreme  command  early  in  September.  But  before  the 
cold  weather  operations  for  1886-87  could  well  be  said 
to  have  commenced,  he  died  of  malarious  fever,  near 
Prome,  on  2nd  October,  1886.  In  view  of  the  large 
number  of  troops  in  Burma,  the  extended  operations 
about  to  be  undertaken,  and  the  extreme  gravity  which 
the  situation  had  now  undisguisably  assumed — for  during 
the  rainy  season,  when  whole  districts  were  rendered 
impassable  by  swollen  streams,  and  the  troops  and  officers 
suffered  from  ill-health,  the  rebels  had  made  head 
against  the  British  power — the  Commander-in-Chief,  Sir 
Frederick  Roberts,  was  directed  to  transfer  his  head- 
quarters temporarily  to  Burma  and  assume  command  of 
the  whole  of  the  troops  in  the  province.  He  arrived  in 
Mandalay  on  17th  November,  and  remained  there  till 
1 2th  February,  1887. 

The  forces  then  amounted  to  about  32,000  troops 
and  8,500  military  police,  exclusive  of  the  urban  and 
rural  native  Burmese  police,  whose  organization  and 
discipline  were  being  gradually  improved.  The  Com- 
mander-in-Chief was  assisted  by  two  majors-general  in 
command  of  divisions,  and  six  brigadiers-general  in  com- 
mand of  brigades.  To  facilitate  the  free  movement  of 
troops  jungle  clearings,  each  of  100  feet  in  width,  were 
made  from  post  to  post,  and  in  other  convenient  places. 

While  measures  were  thus  being  concerted  for  putting 
down  rebellion  and  dacoity  with  a  strong  hand,  the 
necessity  of  directly  and  indirectly  conciliating  the  people 
at  large  was  not  overlooked  ;  hence  punitive  measures, 
such  as  the  burning  of  villages,  harbouring  or  assisting 
rebels,  were  prohibited  ;  an  amnesty  was  offered  to  all 
who  should  voluntarily  submit  within  a  certain  time  ;  all 
imports  and  duties  impeding  the  free  course  of  trade 



were  abolished  ;  the  village  system  was  adhered  to,  and 
the  indigenous  methods  of  administration  were  retained  so 
far  as  possible  ;  demands  for  the  collection  of  revenue 
were  not  pressed  severely ;  and  various  means  were  taken 
to  try  and  bring  home  to  the  people  the  fact  that  there 
was  no  intention  of  undermining  or  interfering  with  the 
Buddhist  religion.  Endeavours  were  also  made  to  de- 
velop the  rich  natural  resources  of  the  country.  Agri- 
cultural interests,  besides  having  for  years  back  been 
hampered  by  dacoity,  had  suffered  throughout  the  whole 
of  the  dry  central  zone  from  the  state  of  disrepair  into 
which  irrigation  works,  dating  from  centuries  back,  had 
been  allowed  to  fall.  The  ruby  mines,  jade  mining,  coal 
fields,  oil  wells,  teak  forests,  and  gold  fields,  were  all 
valuable  natural  resources,  whose  exploitation  would  be- 
come of  great  importance  so  soon  as  the  country  began 
to  be  somewhat  more  settled. 

As  a  means  of  pacification  and  of  advance  towards 
these  desirable  ends,  the  important  step  was  taken  of 
disarming  the  country.  Begun  in  the  Mandalay  district, 
it  was  gradually,  but  without  undue  delay,  extended 
throughout  the  whole  of  the  fourteen  districts  of  Upper 
Burma.  All  guns  were  called  in  from  towns  and  villages, 
and  were  only  partially  distributed  under  proper  safe- 
guards. After  being  marked  with  distinctive  marks  and 
numbers,  guns  were  only  restored  to  licensees  consisting 
of  respectable  men  living  in  well-behaved  villages  and 
towns  where  there  were  at  least  five  to  ten  armed 
licensees.  Villages  with  well-kept  chevatix-de-frise,  bam- 
boo stockades,  and  proper  watch  and  ward  kept  at  the 
small  Kin  or  "guard-houses"  placed  near  the  gates, 
were  safer  with  ten  or  more  guns  in  the  hands  of  licensees 
than  they  were  before ;  whereas  hamlets  with  only  two 
or  three  guns  would,  under  any  circumstances,  have  been 
unable  to  offer  strong  resistance  to  dacoit  attacks,  be- 
cause experience  showed  that  such  small  villages  never 
attempted  to  defend  themselves.  As  soon  as  the  mass 
of  the  people  living  in  the  towns  and  villages  on  the 
plains  were  deprived  of  their  arms,  it  became  no  longer 
possible  for  rebels  and  dacoits  to  replace  guns  lost  in 
action  or  given  up  on  acceptance  of  amnesty.     Insistence 



was  at  the  same  time  made  that  villages  whose  position 
exposed  them  to  attack  should  surround  themselves  with 
substantial  stockades,  and  that  a  proper  watch  should  be 
maintained  there  day  and  night.  Wherever  this  proved 
ineffectual,  and  in  outlying  tracts  where  military  posts 
could  not  be  established,  small  hamlets  were  grouped 
together  to  form  a  more  easily  defensible  village,  and 
villao^es  were  moved  to  more  suitable  sites.  Incon- 
venience  and  a  certain  amount  of  hardship  was  insepar- 
able from  the  latter  measure ;  but,  as  the  houses  in 
Burmese  villages  are  only  constructed  of  posts,  bamboos, 
and  thatch  grass,  easily  obtainable  from  the  neighouring 
jungles,  the  inevitable  hardships  were  reduced  to  a  mini- 
mum. Even  in  the  royal  city  of  Mandalay  the  houses 
were  mostly  of  the  same  flimsy  and  uncostly  description, 
and  were  worth  only  about  fifty  rupees  (/^zi)  apiece, 
although  some  were,  of  course,  much  more  valuable. 
The  six  thousand  houses  located  between  the  palace  and 
the  city  walls  were  also  subsequently  cleared  out  on 
payment  of  compensation  reckoned  according  to  the 
number  of  the  posts  supporting  each  house,  and  the  house- 
holders thus  ejected  on  payment  of  compensation  for 
disturbance  were  granted  building  sites  in  the  new  extra- 
mural town  of  Mandalay,  while  the  old  Shwemyodaw,  or 
*'  royal  golden  city,"  was  retained  exclusively  for  the  civil 
and  military  servants  of  Government,  and  transformed 
into  Fort  Dufferin. 

With  a  credulous  and  superstitious  race  like  the 
Burmese,  even  trivial  things  often  assume  dimensions  of 
enormous  magnitude.  In  1887  one  of  the  seven- roofed 
Pyathat  or  ornamental  buildings  on  the  north  wall  of 
the  city  was  utilized  as  the  central  portion  of  a  Govern- 
ment House  for  the  Chief  Commissioner.  This  was  a 
mistake.  If  it  had  any  ornamental  spire  at  all,  Govern- 
ment House  should  have  had  nine  graduated  roofs  to 
indicate  clearly  that  it  was  the  abode  of  the  ruler  of  the 
province.  Even  the  palaces  of  the  Shan  chiefs  are 
allowed  to  have  a  seven-roofed  Pyathat,  and  to  put 
fewer  than  the  nine  representing  supreme  sovereignty, 
while  the  Myenan  or  imperial  palace,  "  the  Centre  of 
the   Universe,"  still  stood   among  the  palace  buildings, 



showed  great  want  of  knowledge  concerning  Burmese 
sumptuary  laws,  ceremonial  etiquette,  and  national  ideas. 
It  is  not  conceivable  that  there  could  have  been  any 
deliberate  intention  in  thus  giving  a  certain  amount  of 
hope  to  aspirants  for  the  throne,  or  to  rebel  Bo  and 
leaders  of  large  dacoit  bands.  But  the  work  of  paci- 
fication in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  Mandalay  would 
probably  have  been  accomplished  more  easily  and  speedily 
if  the  British  Government  had  built  for  their  represent- 
ative a  nine-roofed  house,  whose  spire  towered  aloft 
higher  than  the  pinnacle  of  the  Pyathat  above  the  lion 
throne  in  Thibaw's  great  Hall  of  Audience.  The  fact  that 
this  symbol  of  authority  still  remained  is  said  to  have 
been  one  of  the  causes  leading  to  the  great  incendiary 
fires  which  later  on  broke  out  in  and  around  Mandalay 
during  April,  1892. 

For  the  apprehension  of  noted  rebel  leaders  and  dacoit 
Bo  large  rewards  were  offered,  and  dissension  was  sown 
among  their  followers  by  liberal  offers  of  pardon  to  the 
less  prominent  members  of  the  various  bands,  as  well  as 
to  the  rank  and  file  consisting  of  young  or  ignorant  men, 
more  misguided  than  criminal.  In  dealing  with  these 
rebels  and  dacoits  there  was  neither  extreme  severity  on 
the  one  hand,  nor  mawkish  sentimentality  on  the  other. 
Measures  of  repression  and  punishment  were  necessary  to 
crush  the  armed  resistance,  and  no  one  in  authority 
shrank  from  the  responsibility  of  inflicting  them  as  the 
only  way  of  ultimately  bringing  peace  and  prosperity  to 
the  disturbed  and  harassed  country.  The  gangs  were 
hunted  down  continuously,  and  every  effort  was  made  to 
capture  the  leaders.  When  captured  or  brought  in  as  a 
prisoner  by  villagers  wishing  to  be  rid  of  his  oppression, 
a  dacoit  Bo  had  a  fair  trial,  and  was  hanged  if  convicted  ; 
but  promises  of  pardon  on  voluntary  surrender  were  per- 
formed with  a  scrupulousness  which  sometimes  thwarted 
justice  in  favour  of  mercy.  Proclamation  was  also  made 
that,  while  in  the  meantime  no  clemency  could  be  shown 
to  those  who  were  confined  as  prisoners  in  jails,  the 
question  of  liberating  them  or  reducing  their  sentences 
would  be  duly  considered  so  soon  as  the  state  of  the 
country  permitted  Government  to  take  this  step. 



The  attitude  of  the  Shan  Sawbwa  or  chiefs  on  the 
hills  to  the  east  of  the  Irrawaddy  was,  fortunately  for  the 
work  of  pacification,  such  as  gave  reason  to  hope  that 
the  allegiance  of  these  rulers  would  not  be  difficult  to 
obtain.  The  problem  with  these,  and  with  the  other  far 
less  civilized  hill  tribes — the  Kachin  and  Chin — on  the 
north  and  west,  was  quite  different  from  that  among  the 
Burmese  on  the  plains,  as  they  were  all  well-defined 
groups  of  men  living  under  the  rule  of  tribal  chiefs 
whose  authority  was  generally  sufficient  to  preserve  order 
amongst  them.  It  was  not  a  case  of  dealing  with  dis- 
integrated masses  like  the  rebel  bands  and  dacoit  gangs, 
but  with  large  organized  tribal  units,  each  under  the 
moral  and  administrative  control  of  an  individual  ruler. 
At  first  there  were  some  difficulties,  but  ultimately  the 
Shan  chiefs  willingly  accepted  the  British  supremacy 
and  agreed  to  preserve  order  among  their  people  so  long 
as  their  rights  and  dignity  of  chieftainship  were  recognized 
and  troops  were  not  quartered  upon  them.  In  return  for 
this  they  agreed  to  restrain  their  people  from  internecine 
warfare  and  from  raidingf  down  into  the  territories  under 
military  occupation. 

They  were  at  once  placed  in  a  more  advantageous 
commercial  position  than  under  Burmese  rule,  for  the 
restrictions  and  imposts  on  Letpet  or  "  pickled  tea  "  were 
removed,  and  this  most  valuable  of  the  hill  products 
could  be  taken  down  to  the  plains.  Under  Burmese 
Government  about  7|-  lacs  of  rupees  of  revenue  (^50,000) 
had  annually  been  realized  in  connexion  with  the  mono- 
poly affecting  the  importation  and  sale  of  tea.  Owing  to 
the  disturbed  state  of  the  country  no  tribute  was  levied 
in  1886-87,  and  thereafter  the  demand  made  was  only 
about  half  the  amount  fixed  under  Burmese  rule,  ^\  lacs 
(^30,000).  _ 

The  first  of  the  great  Shan  chiefs  to  render  allegiance  to 
the  British  was  Kun  Saing,  Sawbwa  of  Thibaw,  one  of  the 
principal  Northern  Shan  States  lying  due  east  of  Mandalay. 
On  27th  January,  1887,  he  came  in  person  to  Mandalay, 
and  was  formally  received  at  the  eastern  gate  of  the  city 
by  Sir  Charles  Bernard.  This  was  not  the  first  time  he 
had  had  an  interview  with  a  Chief  Commissioner ;  but 



the  circumstances  were  different.  In  1884  the  Thibaw 
Sawbwa  fled  from  his  State  through  fear  of  King  Thibaw, 
and  sought  refuge  in  Lower  Burma.  He  went  to  Ran- 
goon to  worship  at  the  great  Shwe  Dagon  Pagoda. 
While  residing  there  in  one  of  the  suburbs  he  executed 
two  of  his  followers,  who  had  been  guilty  of  some  act  of 
commission  or  omission.  Tried  for  murder  by  the  Re- 
corder of  Rangoon,  he  was  condemned  to  death  ;  but 
the  capital  sentence  was  commuted  to  imprisonment  for 
two  years,  on  account  of  his  having  had  as  Chief  the 
power  of  life  and  death  in  his  own  State.  In  Rangoon 
jail  he  was  treated  like  other  convicts.  His  head  was 
shaved  ;  he  had  to  wear  the  coarse  canvas  prison  garb 
stamped  with  the  black  broad-arrow,  and  he  had  to  do  his 
daily  task  of  hard  labour  in  husking  rice  with  a  grinding- 
mill  worked  by  hand.  It  was  while  so  engaged  that  Mr. 
(afterwards  Sir  Charles)  Crosthwaite,  then  Acting  Chief 
Commissioner,  saw  him  on  a  prison  inspection,  and  used 
the  Government  prerogative  in  granting  him  a  free  pardon. 
On  King  Thibaw's  downfall  Kun  Saing  recovered  his 
State,  held  aloof  from  the  combinations  and  dissensions 
of  the  other  States,  and  took  an  early  opportunity  of 
intimating  allegiance  to  the  British  Government.  As  a 
reward  for  this,  the  tribute  payable  by  his  State  was 
remitted  for  ten  years,  and  the  three  petty  States  of 
Mainglon,  Thonze,  and  Maington  were  made  sub- 
ordinate to  the  Thibaw  State. 

It  is  not  impossible  that  his  experiences  in  the  Ran- 
goon jail  in  1884  had  some  direct  connexion  with  Kun 
Saing's  policy  towards  the  British  in  1886;  but  the 
Thibaw  Sawbwa  has  since  kept  his  allegiance  well,  and 
his  lead^  was  speedily  followed  by  the  majority  of  the 
Shan  chiefs,  who  had  been  in  open  rebellion  during  the 
last  three  years  of  King  Thibaw's  reign.  A  digression 
may  here,^  perhaps,  be  permitted  to  mention  that  in  1890 
he  sent  his  two  sons  to  England  for  the  completion  of 
their  education,  that  he  himself  came  to  see  the  country 
in  1893,  and  that  he  was  nominated  a  member  of  the 
Legislative  Council  of  Burma  on  its  formation  in  1897. 
And  once  again  he  returned  to  England,  in  the  summer 
of  1 898,  to  present  a  rare  gem  to  Her  Majesty  at  Windsor. 



Between  confinement  with  hard  labour  in  Rangoon  jail  and 
a  formal  reception  by  the  Chief  Commissioner  of  Burma 
at  the  principal  gate  of  Mandalay  city,  or  an  audience  of 
the  Queen- Empress  at  Windsor  Castle,  there  are  vast 
differences.  It  surely  speaks  well  for  the  British  adminis- 
tration of  Burma  that  such  things  should  have  been 
possible ;  and  it  speaks  better  still  for  Kun  Saing, 
Sawbwa  of  Thibaw,  that  they  actually  took  place. 
When,  in  May,  1898,  he  showed  me  over  his  Haw  or 
palace,  and  did  me  the  unusual  honour  of  conducting  me 
into  the  private  apartments,  and  introducing  me  to  his 
queens  and  princesses,  then  led  me  to  his  private  chapel 
and  the  look-out  tower,  I  could  not  help,  during  my 
conversation  with  him,  thinking  that  I  had  been  privi- 
leged to  make  the  acquaintance  of  a  singularly  magnani- 
mous as  well  as  a  very  intelligent  and  far-seeing 

The  wild,  uncivilized  tribes  inhabiting  the  densely- 
wooded  hills  flanking  and  separating  the  valleys  of  the 
Irrawaddy  and  its  tributaries  were  left  to  be  dealt  with 
later  on,  by  means  of  punitive  expeditions,  and  by  the 
establishment  of  military  forts  in  their  midst,  when  once 
the  plains  had  been  brought  into  a  more  settled  con- 
dition. Before  Sir  Frederick  Roberts  reached  Mandalay 
the  short  cool  season  with  which  the  northern  portion  of 
Burma  is  favoured  had  already  begun,  while  the  arrange- 
ments for  work  had  been  practically  elaborated  by 
General  White  and  Sir  Herbert  Macpherson,and  had  been 
approved  by  himself  as  Commander-in-Chief:  but  he  lost 
no  time  in  issuing  on  20th  November  general  instructions 
to  his  brigadiers,  and  to  officers  in  command  of  flying 
columns,  for  the  conduct  of  operations  throughout  the 
coming  season.  Columns  sent  out  in  pursuit  of  rebel 
gangs  were  to  be  provisioned  for  ten  days  at  least,  depots 
being  laid  down  at  convenient  centres  to  supplement  the 
supplies  obtainable  locally  from  villages.  When  two  or 
more  columns  were  acting  in  concert,  communications 
were  to  be  kept  up  as  constantly  as  possible  by  means  of 
signalling,  scouts  and  patrols.  Liberal  rewards  were  to 
be  given  to  guides  and  those  furnishing  useful  imforma- 
tion   involving  risk  to  themselves.     As  the    success  of 


operations  and  the  health  of  the  troops  depended  so 
much  on  the  proper  maintenance  of  commissariat  ar- 
rangements and  transport,  the  careful  treatment  of  pack 
animals  was  enjoined  on  all  officers.  They  were  likewise 
exhorted  to  see  that  the  troops  did  not  injure  the  property 
of  the  people,  or  wound  their  susceptibilities,  as  it  was  of 
importance  to  cultivate  friendly  relations  with  them  and 
gain  their  confidence,  whilst  putting  before  them  evidences 
of  military  power.  Chief  men  of  districts  were  to  be 
treated  with  consideration  and  distinction,  and  pains  were 
to  be  taken  to  eradicate  the  fear  that  the  British  intended 
to  overthrow  the  Buddhist  religion  and  all  the  customs  and 
privileges  dear  to  the  people.  In  operations  against 
positions  held  by  rebels  in  arms  against  British  rule, 
efforts  were  to  be  made  to  surround  their  positions  so  as 
to  inflict  the  heaviest  loss  possible  ;  for  a  severe  lesson 
promptly  administered,  even  at  the  cost  of  some  casualties 
on  the  British  side,  was  held  to  be  the  shortest  and  best 
way  of  crushing  organized  armed  resistance.  Villages 
and  jungle  retreats  were  therefore  to  be  surrounded  with 
cavalry,  and  carefully  beaten  through  by  infantry.  As 
Princes,  pretenders,  and  dacoit  Bo  would  generally  be 
found  heading  the  columns  of  fugitives,  part  of  the 
cavalry  was  to  pursue  them  without  wasting  time  over  the 
rank  and  file,  many  of  whom  were  villagers  forced,  nclens 
volens,  into  the  gangs.  Columns  of  occupation  employed 
in  the  pacification  of  tracts  from  which  rebels  and  dacoit 
bands  had  been  dispersed  were  to  make  short  marches 
and  halt  at  all  towns  and  large  villages,  so  as  to  give  civil 
officers  opportunities  of  becoming  acquainted  with  the 
districts,  and  military  officers  time  for  making  reconnais- 
sances and  sketch  maps.  When  civil  officers  accompanied 
columns,  all  prisoners  were  handed  over  to  them  for  dis- 
posal, otherwise  the  officer  in  command  had  ex  officio 
magisterial  powers  to  inflict  up  to  two  years'  imprisonment 
or  thirty  lashes  :  if  heavier  punishment  were  considered 
necessary,  the  cases  were  reserved  till  they  could  be  dis- 
posed of  by  a  civil  officer.  In  view  of  the  malarious  and 
unhealthy  nature  of  the  climate  to  which  they  were  un- 
avoidably exposed  during  operations  of  this  sort,  and  of 
the  extremely  arduous  fatigue  which  they  were  constantly 



being  called  upon  to  incur,  every  reasonable  effort  was 
made,  both  in  camp  and  on  the  march,  to  minimize  the 
risks  to  which  the  troops  were  exposed  from  those 
scourges  of  the  tropical  jungles,  malarial  fever  and 
dysentery/  The  number  of  officers  and  men  who  suc- 
cumbed to  these  climatic  diseases  and  to  their  sequelae  was 
far  in  excess  of  that  mown  down  in  the  hundreds  of  skir- 
mishes which  took  place  before  Upper  Burma  was  pacified. 
The  little  brick-walled  cemeteries  near  Pagdn,  Hlaingdet, 
and  other  similar  but  now  disused  military  posts,  are  filled 
with  the  grave-mounds  of  British  soldiers,  who  thus  laid 
down  their  lives  to  help  pacify  the  new  province.  The 
tooth  of  time  has  already  gnawed  keenly  into  the  little 
teakwood  crosses  upon  which  were  inscribed  the  names 
and  regiments  of  the  rank  and  file ;  and  in  a  very  few 
years  all  will  be  nameless  graves  save  the  spots  where 
officers  rest  beneath  more  enduring  memorials  of  marble, 
granite,  or  sandstone. 

There  was  never  a  campaign  in  which  so  much  initiative 
was  left  to  the  junior  officers,  and  the  captains  and  subal- 
terns nobly  upheld  the  best  traditions  of  the  British  army 
as  a  fighting  body.  The  improved  education  now  given  to 
military  cadets  at  Sandhurst  and  Woolwich  made  itself 
very  apparent  in  a  practical  way  throughout  the  cam- 
paign of  pacification,  lasting  for  five  years  after  the  an- 
nexation. The  country  had  never  been  surveyed,  and 
there  were  no  maps  :  hence  officers  were  required  to  send 
in  sketch  maps,  drawn  to  a  fixed  scale.  These  were 
pieced  together  in  Mandalay,  and  made  into  a  very 
serviceable  map,  from  which  operations  and  even  com- 

^  The  casualties  between  17th  November,  1885,  and  31st  October, 
1886,  were  : 

Killed  or  died  of  wounds. 

Died  from  disease. 


Officers      .     .     . 
Men      .... 





Total   . 






bined  movements  from  different  bases  could  be  directed 
at  the  headquarters  of  the  Burma  field  force. 

These  operations  were  pushed  on  so  vigorously  during 
the  cold  season,  that  by  March,  1887,  when  Sir  Charles 
Bernard,   whose  health  had  suffered  severely  from  the 
strain  of  the  previous  fifteen  months,  handed  over  the  chief 
commissionership  to  Mr.   (now  Sir  Charles)  Crosthwaite, 
the  number  of  posts  held  in  upper  Burma  by  troops  had 
risen  to  141.     By  this  time  seventeen  districts  had  been 
formed  and  grouped  into  three  divisions,  under  Commis- 
sioners who  confirmed  all  capital  sentences,  and  revised 
and  superintended  the  proceedings  of  district  officers.   The 
civil    officers   were   everywhere    dependent    on    military 
escorts,  and  could  nowhere   move  about  their  districts 
freely  ;  but  the  tide  of  affairs  was  already  beginning  to 
turn.     While,  on  the  one  hand,  the  officers  commanding- 
posts  and  parties  of  troops  in  the  field  were  acquiring  a 
knov/ledge  of  the  people  and  of  the  country,  the  rebels  and 
dacoits,  on  the  other  hand,  were  beginning  to  get  tired 
and  disheartened  with  the  continuous  hunting  down  and 
harassing.       The   constant    pursuit    of  the   cavalry  and 
mounted  infantry  was  beginning  to  tell  on  both  the  leaders 
and  their  followers  ;  and  the  tactics  pursued  tended  to  cut 
them  adrift  from  their  bases  of  supply  and  their  sources 
of  information  as  to  the  movements  of  British  troops. 

Despite  the  progress,  however,  affairs  were  still  very 
bad.  The  Mandalay  district  was  to  a  great  extent  in  the 
hands  of  three  or  four  Bo,  who  headed  large  gangs 
and  acted  in  concert  so  far  as  to  recognize  and  respect 
the  limits  of  each  leader's  territorial  jurisdiction  for  the 
levy  of  blackmail  on  villages  located  therein.  These 
Bo  professed  to  act  on  behalf  of  the  Myingun  Prince, 
still  a  refugee  at  Pondicherry,  and  were  kept  together  and 
instructed  how  to  act  in  combination  by  a  relative  of  his 
who  styled  himself  the  Bayingan  or  Viceroy.  Sagaing 
was  terrorized  by  dacoits  that  habitually  murdered  village 
headmen  who  refused  obedience  or  neglected  to  pay 
blackmail.  Nga  Hlau  still  overran  the  Shwebo  and  Yeii 
districts.  The  Ruby  Mines  district  remained  quiet  after 
an  expedition  under  General  Stewart  took  possession  of 
Mogok,  its  chief  town ;  but  in  the  country  to  the  north 



of  that  a  young-  Shan  named  Kan  Hlaing  had  assumed  a 
position  of  open  enmity  to  the  British,  because  of  their 
decHninor  to  assist  him  in  estabHshing  himself  as  Sawbwa 
of  the  Shan  States  of  Mohlaing  and  Momeik.  The  upper 
portion  of  the  Chindwin  valley  was  fairly  quiet.  The 
Sawbwa  of  Thaungthut  had  made  his  submission,  while 
the  Sawbwa  of  Kale  was  not  in  open  hostility,  though  he 
had  not  yet  declared  his  allegiance.  The  latter  arrested 
and  handed  over  a  pretender  calling  himself  Buddha 
Yaza,  who  was  promptly  tried  and  executed.  In  the 
lower  Chindwin  there  continued  to  be  much  disturbance 
in  the  Pagyi  country,  a  wild  tract  to  a  great  extent 
covered  with  inaccessible  and  unhealthy  forests.  The 
Pagdn  district  was  overrun  with  dacoits,  who  found  refuge 
in  the  tangle  of  scrub  jungles  and  ravines  clothing  the 
spurs  extending  into  the  adjacent  plains  from  the  remark- 
able hill  of  Popa,  lying  to  the  north-east  of  Pagan  and 
about  forty  miles  back  from  the  Irrawaddy  river.  About 
4,500  feet  in  height  and  conical  in  shape,  Popa  towers 
upwards  from  the  skyline,  a  solitary  mountain  peak  sur- 
rounded by  a  vast  extent  of  plain,  in  marked  resemblance 
to  the  sacred  Fujisan  of  Japan.  The  scrub-covered 
spurs  and  ravines,  which  hid  a  good  deal  of  cultivated 
land  in  the  hollows,  had  ever  been  a  favourite  resort  of 
dacoit  gangs.  The  villagers  were  mostly  cattle  rievers, 
who  stored  their  beasts  in  large  pens  or  enclosures  in  the 
jungle  lest  they  might  stray  back  to  their  lawful  owners. 
Further  to  the  south,  between  Taungdwingyi  and  the 
old  frontier,  Bo  Min  Yaung  was  ravaging  the  country 
with  a  large  following,  accompanied  by  ponies  and  ele- 

In  the  south-eastern  tracts  drained  by  the  Sittang 
river  four  Bo,  Maung  Hmon,  Maung  Gyi,  Maung  Lat, 
and  Buddha  Yaza  still  had  their  hunting  grounds.  Time 
after  time  they  collected  their  men,  but  dispersed  again 
into  the  hill  jungles  when  hard  pressed  by  troops,  who 
left  them  no  rest  by  day  or  night,  and  who  prevented 
them  from  disturbing  the  country  south  of  the  old  frontier. 

On  the  right  bank  of  the  Irrawaddy,  below  the  con- 
fluence of  the  Chindwin,  the  country  was  not  really  under 
administration.     A  pretender,  calling  himself  the  Shwe- 



cryobyu  Prince,  had  a  large  following,  while  the  wild  Yaw 
Tracts  to  the  west  of  that  were  overrun  by  dacoits. 
The  northern  part  of  the  Minbu  district  was  held  by 
Oktamd,  while  Bo  Shwe  swayed  the  southern  portion 
towards  Minhla  and  Thayetmyo.  Both  of  these  leaders 
had  a  strong  organization  and  pillaged  the  country  under 
a  more  methodic  system  than  any  of  the  other  dacoit 
Bo.  In  the  intervals  between  raids  and  forays  into  the 
open  country  near  the  Irrawaddy,  they  withdrew  into  the 
water-logged  and  densely  forested  tracts,  reeking  with 
noxious  exhalations,  skirting  the  base  of  the  Arakan 
Yoma,  the  range  of  hills  forming  the  western  watershed 
of  the  Irrawaddy  and  its  tributaries.  Here  they  re- 
mained comparatively  safe,  finding  a  double  protection  in 
the  thick  jungles  traversed  only  by  small  footpaths,  and 
in  the  malarious  climate  deadly  to  those  who  had  not 
been  hereditarily  acclimatized  to  it.  But  Bo  Shwe's  influ- 
ence was  now  already  on  the  wane.  He  had  long  been 
hunted  vigorously  by  mounted  infantry  and  Gurkhas,  and 
had  more  than  once  barely  escaped  with  his  life. 

In  the  Upper  Irrawaddy  valley,  the  Katha  district  was 
rendered  fairly  quiet  except  where  the  State  of  Wuntho 
marched  with  it  on  the  south-west.  The  Sawbwa  of  this 
Shan  State,  comprising  the  hills  between  the  Irrawaddy 
and  the  Chindwin,  refused  to  come  in  or  acknowledge 
allegiance  to  the  British,  and  endeavoured  to  seize  the 
town  of  Mogaung  on  the  north,  which  was  held  by  a 
Burmese  town  magistrate,  acting  nominally  for  the  British 
Government,  but  in  reality  "  eating  the  town  "  as  in  the 
old  days.  Between  Mogaung  and  Bhamo  the  country 
was  undisturbed. 

Such  was  the  condition  of  the  Irrawaddy  plain,  the 
Chindwin  valley,  and  the  Sittang  drainage,  the  three 
great  riverine  tracts  forming  the  central  portion  of  Upper 
Burma,  in  March,  1887,  after  Sir  Frederick  Roberts  had, 
on  1 2th  February,  returned  from  Burma  to  India,  leaving 
the  Upper  Burma  field  force  under  the  command  of 
Major-General  Sir  George  White.  On  ist  April,  1887, 
this  force  consisted  of  20,791  troops,  divided  into  four 
brigades  (Mandalay,  Shwebo,  Meiktila,  and  Myingyan), 
and    three  smaller  separate   commands   (Bhamo,   Ruby 



Mines,  and  Chindwin).  The  garrison  in  Lower  Burma 
was  again  formed  into  a  separate  force  under  Major- 
General  B.  L.  Gordon,  and  consisted  of  2,106  Europeans 
and  4,088  native  troops. 

During  the  following  year  satisfactory  progress  was 
made  in  the  work  of  pacification.  Order  was  almost 
completely  restored  in  Lower  Burma,  while  in  Upper 
Burma  a  large  Military  Police  force  of  13,244  officers  and 
men  had  been  organized,  and  the  work  of  maintaining 
order,  previously  performed  by  troops,  was  now  efficiently 
carried  out  by  these  police,  acting  under  the  immediate 
control  of  the  civil  officers.  On  ist  April,  1888,  the 
purely  military  force  was  reduced  to  16,602,  and  ceased 
to  be  on  the  footing  of  a  field  force,  while  the  number  of 
brigades  was  reduced  to  three.  But  the  total  effective 
strength  of  troops  and  Military  Police  throughout  Burma 
rose  from  31,830  to  34,712  ;  for  while  the  purely  military 
garrison  of  Upper  Burma  was  reduced  by  over  4,000 
men,  the  Military  Police  under  civil  administration  rose 
by  8,400. 

The  organization  of  the  Military  Police  and  the 
establishment  of  Military  Police  posts,  in  place  of  posts 
held  by  troops,  contributed  greatly  towards  success.  So 
soon  as  the  pacification  of  any  district  was  sufficiently 
advanced,  the  military  posts  were  withdrawn  and  Military 
Police  posts  established.  In  time  each  district  had  its 
own  battalion,  recruited  from  the  warlike  races  of 
Northern  India,  and  officered  by  a  commandant  and  an 
assistant  commandant  appointed  from  Indian  regiments. 
These  Military  Police  battalions  were  organized  like  native 
regiments  in  all  except  the  scale  of  commissioned  officers. 
Their  duties  were  almost  purely  military.  They  supple- 
mented the  work  of  the  regular  troops  by  occupying 
posts  and  maintaining  patrols  when  once  the  first  step 
towards  pacification,  the  breaking  up  and  dispersal  of 
rebel  and  dacoit  gangs,  had  been  achieved.  Subse- 
quently, when  the  work  of  pacification  was  completed, 
several  of  these  battalions  were  bodily  transferred  to  the 
Indian  army.  At  first  the  minimum  strength  of  any 
Military  Police  post  was  fixed  at  twenty-five  men ;  but 
this  was  raised  to  forty  in  order  that,  when  patrols  of  ten 

129  K 


men  or  more  were  sent  out,  the  force  remaining  behind 
would  always  be  strong  enough  to  hold  the  post  against 
attacks,  for  experience  showed  that  when  troops  were 
withdrawn  there  was  a  tendency  towards  recrudescence 


The  district  magistrate  had  control  over  both  the  Civil 
and  the  Military  Police  in  his  district,  and  was  responsible 
for  saying  what  posts  should  be  occupied,  and  what  the 
strength  of  each  should  be.  The  general  principle  laid 
down^for  the  guidance  of  civil  officers  in  allocating  the 
force  was  that  the  most  important  and  central  posts 
should  be  occupied  by  fairly  large  bodies  of  Military 
Police,  to  each  of  which  should  be  added  a  small  number 
of  Burmese  constables  for  the  purpose  of  receiving 
reports,  investigating  cases,  and  collecting  information. 
Stress  was  laid  on  maintaining  constant  systematic 
patrols,  and  on  training  the  men  in  musketry  practice. 
Between  these  protective  Military  Police  posts  inter- 
mediate posts  were  held  by  Civil  Police,  consisting  of 
Burmese  recruited  locally.  To  enable  long  marches  and 
prompt  pursuits  to  be  made,  thus  the  better  to  supply 
the  place  of  the  regular  troops  whose  work  they  had 
taken  over,  from  eleven  to  twenty  per  cent,  of  the  men 
in  each  Military  Police  battalion  were  mounted  on  small, 
hardy  Burmese  ponies. 

The  hands  of  the  district  magistrates  were  much 
strengthened,  and  the  work  of  pacification  greatly 
assisted,  by  the  passing  of  the  Upper  Burma  Village 
Regulation  (XIV.  of  1887).  Designed  to  arrest  that 
disintegration  of  village  communities,  and  to  prevent  that 
undue  centralization  of  authority  which  had  resulted  in 
Lower  Burma  from  abandoning  the  previous  customs  so 
well  suited  to  the  Burmese  character,  the  regulation  gave 
considerable  power  to  local  headmen,  and  enforced  joint 
responsibility  on  villagers  in  matters  of  police.  Under 
the  village  system  of  administration,  local  headmen  had 
been  the  foundation  of  the  civil  government,  controlling 
the  villages,  collecting  revenue,  deciding  disputes  and 
dealing  with  petty  crime.  In  Lower  Burma,  after  the 
second  Burmese  war,  this  excellent  system  had  been 
allowed  to  fall  to  pieces  and  it  was  likely  to  soon  crumble 


REBEL    GANGS    IN    1888 

away  in  Upper  Burma  also,  unless  specially  protected. 
The  Village  Regulation  secured,  as  nearly  as  possible,  to 
headmen  the  position  and  the  powers  formerly  possessed 
by  them  in  Burmese  times,  and  it  enforced  with  much 
strictness  the  joint  responsibility  of  the  village  in  criminal 
matters.  A  great  many  petty  criminal  cases  could,  under 
it,  be  disposed  of  by  the  village  headmen,  who  were  also 
responsible  for  taking  immediate  action  in,  and  for 
reporting  to  the  nearest  police  post,  any  case  of  serious 
crime.  Under  its  authority  provisions  were  made  for 
the  better  defence  of  villages,  and  for  deporting  tem- 
porarily to  other  parts  of  the  country  men  known  to  be 
in  league  with  rebels  or  dacoits,  or  the  friends  and 
relatives  of  those  declared  to  be  outlaws.  This  latter 
measure  contributed  very  specially  towards  the  establish- 
ment of  order. 

Before  the  end  of  the  official  year  1887-88,  the  Man- 
dalay  district  was  freed  from  all  large  or  formidable  gangs 
of  rebels  or  dacoits,  and  most  of  those  in  the  Shwebo 
district  had  been  broken  up  and  their  leaders  either  killed 
or  captured.  In  Sagaing  the  notorious  Hla  U  had  been 
killed  by  his  followers,  who  broke  up  into  small  bands 
and  terrorized  the  forest  tracts ;  hence  special  measures 
had  to  be  adopted  against  these.  In  Ava  Bo  Tok  and 
Shwe  Yan  were  killed,  and  the  district  reduced  to 
quietude.  Of  two  pretender  Princes  in  the  Yeii  district 
one  died  of  fever  and  the  other  was  executed  as  a  rebel. 
The  gangs  troubling  Kyaukse  were  pursued  into  the 
Shan  hills  and  dispersed,  but  subsequently  rallied  again 
under  a  pretender  calling  himself  the  Setkya  Prince,  who 
soon  took  refuge  again  in  the  hills.  In  the  Chindwin 
valley  the  rising  of  the  so-called  Shwegyobya  Prince, 
who  had  been  a  vaccinator  in  Lower  Burma,  was  quelled 
by  most  of  the  leaders  being  either  killed  in  action  or  else 
taken,  tried,  and  executed,  while  the  pretender  himself 
fled  into  the  Chin  hills.  Serious  Chin  raids  from  the 
hills  also  took  place,  which  had  to  be  dealt  with  later  on. 
Much  was  done  to  pacify  Myingyan  and  Meiktila,  but 
gangs  headed  by  Bo  Cho  and  Ya  Nyun  still  remained 
unsuppressed,  though  their  influence  was  on  the  wane. 
In  Pagdn  the  two  chief  leaders  infesting  the  P6pa  hill 


were  accounted  for,  Tha  Do  being  killed  and  Ya  Kut 
tried  and  executed  ;  while  the  Yaw  country  to  the  west 
was  settled  and  placed  on  a  satisfactory  footing.  To  the 
south  of  this  6ktamd  still  defied  all  endeavours  to  crush 
his  power.  He  and  his  chief  lieutenants  were  proclaimed 
outlaws  beyond  the  hope  of  pardon,  but  an  amnesty  was 
offered  to  all  minor  followers,  and  over  1,200  of  his 
men  surrendered  with  their  arms  on  these  terms.  From 
Minhla  Bo  Shwe  was  pursued  in  Lower  Burma  and 
killed  by  the  mounted  infantry  after  a  Robin  Hood  career 
extending  over  about  fifteen  years.  In  Magwe  Bo  Min 
Yaung  was  killed  and  Tok  Gyi  captured,  while  other 
gangs  were  dispersed.  North  of  Mandalay,  the  Ruby 
Mines,  Myadaung,  and  Bhamo  districts  were  fairly  free 
from  organized  rebellion,  and  the  Wuntho  Sawbwa  had 
made  his  submission,  though  he  sullenly  refused  to  come 
in  personally  or  to  receive  British  officers  in  a  befitting 
manner.  A  military  column  visited  Mogaung  and  the 
jade  mines,  and  established  settled  administration  there. 

The  results  of  the  work  achieved  in  Upper  Burma  by  the 
end  of  the  first  fifteen  months  of  its  administration  as  a 
British  province  had,  in  fact,  quite  surpassed  expectation. 
Organized  rebellion  had  been  crushed  in  all  except  two 
or  three  of  the  seventeen  districts,  although  the  more 
sporadic  occurrence  of  dacoity  could  only  be  expected  to 
cease,  and  even  then  by  no  means  entirely,  when  once 
public  security  and  tranquillity  had  become  more 
thoroughly  established.  In  every  district  the  people 
were  becoming  more  accustomed  and  reconciled  to 
British  rule,  and  more  willing  to  assist  in  the  maintenance 
of  order.  One  of  the  best  signs  of  this  was  that  on 
various  occasions  villagers,  tired  of  the  oppression  of 
dacoits,  resisted  and  killed  them. 

Several  Acts  of  the  Legislature  were  extended  to 
Upper  Burma  under  the  Scheduled  Districts  Act,  and  a 
new  Military  Police  Act  was  passed  and  applied  to  the 
whole  province.  Among  the  special  regulations  enacted 
for  Upper  Burma,  the  most  important  of  all  was  the 
Village  Regulation,  but  others  provided  also  for  the 
registration  of  documents  affecting  immovable  property, 
the  establishment  of  municipalities,   the  administration 



and  control  of  the  forests,  the  collection  and  realization  of 
arrears  of  revenue,  the  limitation  of  suits,  the  declaration 
of  the  law  concerning  stamps,  and  the  control  of  mining 
and  trading  in  rubies  and  other  precious  stones.  In 
May,  1887,  the  Chief  Commissioner  had  resumed  control 
of  both  Upper  and  Lower  Burma,  and  by  the  end  of  the 
year  the  Secretariat  establishments  for  both  parts  of  the 
province  were  combined  at  the  headquarters  of  Govern- 
ment in  Rangoon. 

The  work  of  establishing  authority  firmly  throughout 
all  the  plains  and  central  lands  forming  the  valleys  of 
the  Upper  Irrawaddy,  Chindwin,  and  Sittang  rivers  had 
already  been  so  far  accomplished  as  to  enable  steps  to  be 
taken  towards  dealing  with  the  wild  Kachin  and  Chin 
tribes,  who  inhabited  the  hills  on  the  north  and  west  and 
were  continually  raiding  down  into  the  valleys. 

Things  had  meanwhile  been  progressing  very  favour- 
ably in  the  great  Shan  States  extending  eastwards  across 
the  Salween  and  the  Mekong  or  Cambodia  rivers,  and 
marching  with  China  and  Siam.  The  first  steps  for  the 
settlement  of  these  States  were  taken  early  in  January, 
1887,  when  a  mixed  force  of  European  and  native  troops, 
under  Colonel  (now  Sir  Edward)  Stedman,  accompanied 
by  two  civil  officers,  was  despatched  to  Nyaungyw^  for 
the  relief  of  the  Sawbwa  there,  who  had  taken  an  early 
opportunity  of  intimating  his  allegiance  to  the  British 
Government.  Like  the  Thibaw  Sawbwa,  he  gained 
greatly  by  taking  this  step  ;  for  he  was  confirmed  as 
chief,  although  he  was  then  in  unjust  possession  of  the 
State.  At  the  time  of  the  occupation  of  Mandalay  the 
ruling  Sawbwa,  Saw  Maung,  was  at  the  capital,  whence 
he  at  once  returned  to  his  State  lying  at  the  south-west 
corner  of  the  Shan  tracts.  Here  he  was  attacked  by  the 
supporters  of  the  Limbin  Prince  and  driven  out,  while  his 
half-brother.  Saw  Chit  Su,  was  appointed  Sawbwa.  The 
latter  was  attacked  and  expelled  by  another  brother  named 
Saw  On,  who  usurped  the  State,  declined  to  join  the 
Limbin  Prince's  confederacy,  tendered  his  allegiance  to 
the  British,  and  implored  them  to  assist  his  loyal  efforts 
to  maintain  himself  as  their  tributary.  In  this  he  was 
successful;  but  in  July,  1897,  Saw  Maung  had  the  subse- 



quent  satisfaction  of  performing  Saw  6n's  obsequies  at 
Taunggyi.and  of  having  the  Sawbwaship  bestowed  on  him 
once  again  by  the  British  Government.  In  October, 
1885,  the  Limbin  Prince  (a  son  of  the  heir  apparent 
assassinated  by  the  Myingun  Prince  in  1866),  who  had 
Hved  under  British  protection  during  Thibaw's  reign, 
escaped  from  Moulmein  and  placed  himself  at  the  head 
of  a  confederacy  organized  by  exiled  chiefs  in  the  Keng- 
tung  State  for  the  overthrow  of  King  Thibaw  or  the 
establishment  of  an  independent  Shan  kingdom.  By 
the  time  the  Limbin  Prince  arrived  and  placed  himself  at 
the  head  of  the  rebellion,  the  Burmese  troops  had  been 
withdrawn  and  the  Kingdom  of  Ava  had  fallen,  so  that 
only  the  alternative  remained  to  attempt  to  establish  a 
Shan  kingdom.  The  important  States  of  Mone,  Yat- 
sauk,  Maingpun,  and  Mawkme,  and  about  a  score  of 
minor  States  had  joined  the  movement,  while  others  held 
aloof,  probably  from  motives  of  personal  enmity  to  one 
or  other  of  the  allied  chiefs,  for,  though  many  of  the 
rulers  of  these  States  were  allied  by  ties  of  consanguinity 
or  by  marriage,  there  were  long-standing  feuds  always 
liable  to  break  out  into  internecine  warfare  at  every 
opportunity  which  seemed  favourable.  The  most  im- 
portant States  which  refused  to  take  part  in  the  con- 
federacy were  the  western  States  of  Thibaw  in  the 
north,  and  of  Nyaungyw6  in  the  south.  Their  prompt 
avowal  of  allegiance  came  opportunely  for  the  British, 
and  was  richly  rewarded. 

Early  in  February,  1887,  the  British  force  relieved 
Nyaungywd,  and  a  Superintendent  was  established  with 
a  sufficient  garrison  at  Maingthauk,  to  which  the  name 
of  Fort  Stedman  was  given,  on  the  north-eastern  shore 
of  the  Inle  lake,  a  position  suitable  for  the  purpose  of 
asserting  the  suzerainty  of  the  British  Government,  of 
putting  an  end  to  the  anarchy  and  internecine  warfare 
which  prevailed,  and  of  maintaining  order  and  encourag- 
ing progress  in  the  various  States.  In  May,  1887,  the 
rebel  confederacy  was  broken  up,  and  the  Limbin  Prince 
was,  on  surrendering,  at  his  own  request  sent  to  Calcutta 
as  a  pensioner. 

During   the   rainy   months    of    the    summer   of   1887 


REBEL    GANGS    IN    1889 

anarchy  prevailed  throughout  all  the  Shan  States  ex- 
cept Thibaw  ;  but,  as  soon  as  the  state  of  the  season 
permitted,  two  powerful  columns  were  sent  on  tour 
throughout  the  country.  These  operations  were  suc- 
cessful in  immediately  obtaining  the  personal  submission 
of  all  the  principal  Sawbwa,  of  confirming  them  in  their 
positions  as  tributary  chiefs,  of  settling  their  relations 
with  the  Government  and  with  each  other,  of  fixing  the 
amount  of  tribute  to  be  paid  by  each  State,  of  placing 
the  administration  of  the  States  on  a  satisfactory  foot- 
ing, and  of  getting  the  Sawbwa  to  agree  to  refer  tribal 
disputes  to  the  Superintendent  in  place  of  resorting  to 
warfare.  This  peaceful  settlement  of  the  States  on  the 
great  Shan  plateau  during  the  cold  season  of  1887-88 
was  obtained  bloodlessly,  and  almost  without  a  shot 
being  fired.  The  only  interchange  of  shots  was  when 
some  men  in  the  Taungbaing  State  attacked  the  rear 
guard  of  one  of  the  columns. 

During  the  year  1888-89  lawlessness  was  stamped 
out  in  Lower  Burma,  except  in  the  north-western  fron- 
tier district  of  Thayetmyo  ;  while  the  progress  of  the 
pacification  of  the  internal  portions  of  Upper  Burma 
continued  to  advance  most  satisfactorily  along  the  same 
lines  of  action  as  in  the  previous  year.  While  the 
suppression  of  dacoity  was  mainly  left  to  the  Military 
Police,  the  troops  were  utilized  chiefly  in  pursuing  and 
breaking  up  the  few  remaining  bands  of  rebels  still  at 
large  in  two  or  three  of  the  districts  ;  and  opportunity 
was  also  at  length  taken  to  send  punitive  expeditions  into 
the  hills  to  let  the  Chins  and  Kachins  feel  they  had  now 
very  different  masters  to  deal  with  than  under  the  old 
effete  Burmese  administration,  and  to  make  them  realize 
that  raiding  and  lawlessness  would  have  to  cease.  The 
Mandalay  district  remained  free  from  organized  crime, 
although  a  dacoit  leader,  Nga  To,  gave  a  good  deal  of 
trouble.  From  Kyaukse  the  Setkya  Prince  was  driven 
into  the  Shan  hills,  captured,  tried  for  rebellion  and 
murder,  and  executed.  Sagaing,  Ava,  and  Shwebo 
were  reduced  to  order,  the  most  formidable  of  the  robber 
gangs  being  broken  up  and  their  leaders  either  sur- 
rendered or  else  were  killed  or  captured ;  but  Yeii  was 


still  infested  by  Yan  Gyi  Aung  and  minor  leaders,  whose 
gangs  found  refuge   in  the  dense  forests  of  this  thinly 
populated  district.    The  Chindwin  districts,  being  cleared 
of  dacoits,   were  free  from  serious  crime  by  the  end  of 
the  year,  and  villagers  who  left  their  homesteads  during 
the  disturbed  times  were  returning.     In  Myingyan  and 
Meiktila  Bo  Cho  and  Ya  Nyun  were  still  at  large,  though 
many  minor  leaders  were  disposed  of.     In  Pakokku  and 
the  Yaw  country  various  leaders  sprang   up  ;  but   the 
chief  Bo,   Tha   Do,   Saga,  and   Nga  Kwe,  were  killed, 
and  the  whole  of  the  district  reduced  to  an  undisturbed 
condition  by  the  end  of  the  year.     In  Minbu  Oktamd 
and  his  subordinates  Oktayd,   Byaing  Gyi,  and  others, 
were  still  at  large,  but  were  being  hunted  down  with  such 
untiring   energy   that   their  power  was  rapidly  waning. 
Yamethin  and  Meiktila  remained  undisturbed  through- 
out the  year,  and  Pyinmand  (the  old  Ningyan  district) 
was  freed  from  organized  crime ;  south  and  west  of  these 
districts  Magwe  was,  however,  more  disturbed  than  any 
other  part  of  the  province.     Seven  large  and  numerous 
smaller  dacoit  gangs  sprang  up  there  during  the  rainy 
season  of  1888,  and  two  pretenders,  calling  themselves 
the  Shwekyinyo  Prince  and  Buddha  Yaza,  placed  them- 
selves  in   rebellion   at   the    head   of  the    gangs.      En- 
couragement was  given  to  this  movement  by  the  repulse 
of  a  party  of  military  police  in  November.     The  troops 
in   the   district   were   reinforced,   the  provisions   of  the 
Village  Regulation  were  worked  vigorously,  and  amnesty 
was  offered  to  all  except  some  of  the  prominent  leaders 
proclaimed   as  outlaws ;  but  the  end  of  the  year  found 
the   Administration  forced  to  admit   that   the   state   of 
Magwe  was  a  reproach  to  it. 

In  the  northern  districts  the  settled  portions  of  Bhamo 
continued  quiet,  but  parts  of  Katha  and  the  Ruby  Mines 
district  were  infested  with  dacoits.  The  Wuntho  Sawbwa 
paid  the  tribute  demanded  of  him,  but  still  declined  to 
come  in  and  make  personal  submission.  The  leasing  of 
the  Ruby  Mines  to  an  English  company  no  doubt  called 
forth  a  recrudescence  of  lawlessness  by  exciting  the  ap- 
prehensions and  the  ill-will  of  the  resident  miners  who 
had  previously  enjoyed  the  practical  monopoly  of  digging 



and  washing  for  rubies.  In  Mogaung  a  rebellion  was 
raised  by  Maung  Po  Saw,  a  former  magistrate  there,  who 
succeeded  in  exciting  the  hostility  of  the  Kachin  tribes 
after  the  return  of  the  military  column  which  had  visited 
the  jade  mines.  The  trade  route  was  blocked,  and  in 
May,  1888,  a  determined  attack  was  made  on  the  stock- 
aded town  of  Mogaung,  where  the  rebels  received  severe 
handling  from  the  Gurkha  Military  Police.  As  the 
Kachins  siding  with  Po  Saw  refused  to  make  formal 
submission  and  deliver  up  the  rebels  they  were  harbour- 
ing, punitive  operations  were  undertaken  against  them 
under  the  direction  of  Sir  George  White,  in  the  dry 
season  of  1888-89,  with  complete  success.  Posts  were 
established  at  important  points,  and  the  tribes,  almost 
without  exception,  submitted  and  gave  guarantees  for 
future  good  conduct.  In  the  south-eastern  portion  of 
Bhamo,  lying  between  the  Shweli  river  and  the  Chinese 
frontier,  a  good  deal  of  trouble  was  also  caused  by  the 
Pdnkan  Kachins,  incited  to  disturbance  by  Saw  Yan 
Hnaing,  a  grandson  of  King  Mindon,  and  Kan  Hlaing, 
a  dissatisfied  claimant  to  the  Shan  States  of  Mohlaing 
and  Mong  Mit.  Ever  since  the  annexation  these  Ponkan 
Kachins  had  been  a  menace  to  the  peace  of  the  Bhamo 
district,  but  they  were  effectually  reduced  to  reason  by 
an  expedition  sent  against  them  under  Brigadier-General 
{now  Sir  George)  Wolseley  in  the  spring  of  1889,  on 
the  return  of  the  troops  from  Mogaung. 

In  the  Shan  States  a  military  expedition  had  to  be 
sent  against  Sawlapaw,  the  chief  of  Eastern  Karen ni, 
who  made  an  unprovoked  attack  on  the  State  of  Mawk- 
me,  expelling  the  Sawbwa,  occupying  the  capital,  and 
devastating  the  country.  In  May,  1888,  he  retired  before 
the  approach  of  a  British  force  ;  but,  on  their  withdrawal, 
leaving  only  a  small  garrison  of  native  troops  in  the 
town  of  Mawkm^,  the  red  Karens  returned  in  July  and 
again  ravaged  the  country,  burning  villages,  and  plunder- 
ing the  people.  The  Karens  were  attacked  by  British 
troops  and  forced  to  retreat  with  heavy  loss.  After  two 
insolent  letters  had  been  received  from  Sawlapaw  and 
returned  to  him  by  the  hands  of  his  own  messengers,  an 
ultimatum  was  sent  to  him  insisting,  among  other  things, 



on  his  making  personal  submission  to  the  Superintendent 
at  Fort  Stedman.  Owing  to  non-compliance  therewith, 
a  strong  column,  under  Brigadier-General  H.  Collett, 
C.B.,  marched  against  Karenni  from  Fort  Stedman, 
while  a  second  column,  under  Colonel  J.  J.  Harvey, 
operated  from  the  southern  valley  of  the  Salween.  After 
encountering  some  resistance  both  columns  reached  Saw- 
Ion,  the  capital,  early  in  January  ;  but  Sawlapaw  had 
fled  before  the  arrival  of  the  northern  column.  His 
nephew  and  heir  apparent,  Sawlawi,  was  inducted  into 
the  Sawbwaship  of  Eastern  Karenni  as  a  tributary  state 
in  subordinate  alliance  with  the  British  Government. 
Apart  from  this  expedition,  the  current  of  affairs  ran 
smoothly  throughout  the  southern  Shan  States.  Durbars 
were  held  at  Mone  and  Fort  Stedman  during  May, 
1889,  and  were  attended  by  almost  every  chief  of  note. 
The  northern  Shan  States  were  not  quite  so  peaceful 
and  settled,  but  nothing  occurred  which  called  for  special 
military  expeditions. 

On  the  western  frontier  an  important  series  of  opera- 
tions was  undertaken  against  the  Chins  inhabiting  the 
country  bordering  on  the  Yaw  tracts,  the  Kale  State, 
and  the  Kiibo  valley.  The  principal  of  these  Chin 
tribes  are  the  Siyin,  Sagyilaing,  and  Kanhaw  on  the 
north,  the  Tashon  in  the  centre,  and  the  Baungshe  on 
the  south.  The  central  Tashon  tribe  is  the  most  power- 
ful. The  suspicions  of  these  tribes  were  aroused  by 
proposals  to  make  a  road  across  their  hills  from  Burma 
into  Bengal,  and  the  feelings  thus  excited  were  acted 
upon  by  the  Shwegyobyu  pretender  and  the  late  chief 
of  Kale,  who  had  been  recently  deposed  by  the  British 
Government  for  active  opposition.  Incited  by  these 
two  men,  the  Siyin  and  Sagyilaing  raided  into  the  Kiibo 
valley,  and  the  Baungshe  into  the  Yaw  country ;  while, 
in  May,  1888,  the  Tashon  swept  down  on  Indin  and 
kidnapped  the  newly-appointed  Sawbwa  of  Kal6.  To- 
wards the  end  of  the  rainy  season  further  raids  occurred, 
and  Kalemyo  itself  was  attacked.  A  commencement 
was  made  with  the  Siyin  and  Sagyilaing,  all  of  whose 
villages  were  destroyed  after  stubborn  resistance  in  many 
cases.     The  Kanhaw  were  next  operated  against,  nearly 



every  village  belonging  to  the  tribe  being  taken  and 
destroyed.  In  April,  1889,  active  operations  were  also 
commenced  against  the  Tashon,  but  had  to  be  inter- 
rupted on  the  advent  of  the  rains.  The  results  of  the 
punishment  in  course  of  infliction  was,  however,  that 
nearly  200  kidnapped  captives  were  restored  to  their 
homes,  and  that  an  exemplary  lesson  had  been  taught 
the  three  tribes  dealt  with. 

During  February,  1889,  the  extension  of  the  Rangoon- 
Toungoo  railway  line  to  Mandalay  was  completed,  and 
on  I  St  March  it  was  opened  to  traffic  of  all  descriptions. 
Sanctioned  during  September,  1886,  the  surveys  were  at 
once  put  in  hand,  and  the  construction  of  the  various 
sections  took  from  sixteen  months  to  two  years  to  com- 
plete. About  24,000  coolies,  two-thirds  of  whom  were 
Burmese,  were  employed  on  the  work  during  the  greater 
part  of  the  time.  The  construction,  at  a  cost  of  nearly 
two  million  pounds,  of  these  220  miles  of  railway,  run- 
ning through  a  country  infested  during  most  of  the  time 
with  rebel  bands  and  dacoit  gangs,  was  a  magnificent 
achievement ;  and,  but  for  a  severe  epidemic  of  cholera, 
during  which  the  works  were  almost  entirely  deserted 
over  nearly  a  third  of  the  line,  it  would  have  been  open 
to  traffic  by  the  ist  January,  1889.  Even  before  its 
formal  opening,  so  soon  as  trolleys  and  construction  trains 
could  be  run,  it  was  found  of  great  service  in  military 
and  police  operations,  and  both  directly  and  indirectly 
its  construction  contributed  in  a  marked  degree  towards 
the  pacification  and  settlement  of  the  country.  During 
the  open  season  of  1888-89  surveys  were  carried  out  to 
the  west  of  the  Irrawaddy  from  Sagaing  northwards  up 
the  Mu  Valley  and  through  the  Wuntho  State  into  the 
Katha  district,  so  that  similar  advantages  might  soon  be 
secured  to  the  northern  districts  in  the  direction  of 

No  fresh  regulations  were  passed  for  Upper  Burma 
during  the  year,  though  several  enactments  were  extended 
to  it  under  the  Scheduled  Districts  Act ;  but  a  Shan 
States  Act  provided  for  the  administration  of  these  States 
by  the  native  chiefs  subject  to  the  control  of  the  Local 
Government  exercised  through  Superintendents  at  Fort 



Stedman  and  Lashio.  A  Lower  Burmese  Village  Act 
was  also  passed,  extending  to  the  older  parts  of  the  pro- 
vince provisions  for  the  administration  of  the  rural  tracts 
similar  to  those  preserved  for  Upper  Burma  by  Regulation 
XIV.  of  1887. 

So  satisfactory  had  been  the  progress  of  pacification 
and  settlement  that  it  was  considered  unnecessary  to 
retain  Upper  Burma  as  a  separate  military  command 
after  ist  April,  1889.  Sir  George  White  therefore 
handed  over  his  charge  to  General  (now  Sir  Benjamin) 
Gordon  in  Rangoon,  and  the  troops  were  once  more 
brought  under  the  Commander-in-Chief  of  Madras.  The 
Burma  command  thus  reorganized  consisted  of  three 
districts  in  charge  of  Brigadiers-General  at  Rangoon, 
Mandalay,  and  Myingyan,  and  of  six  smaller  commands 
at  other  important  centres.  During  the  year  the  troops 
in  Upper  Burma  were  reduced  from  13,250  to  11,335; 
but  this  apparent  reduction  was  again,as  in  1887-88,  more 
than  over-balanced  by  the  numbers  of  the  Military  Police 
being  raised  from  13,244  to  17,880.  The  total  strength 
of  troops  and  Military  Police  in  Upper  Burma  thus  rose 
from  26,494  ill  April,  1888,  to  29,215  in  April,  1889; 
while  throughout  the  whole  province  it  increased  from 
32,890  to  34,446  men.  In  October,  1888,  the  whole  of 
the  police  forces  of  Lower  and  Upper  Burma,  which  had 
hitherto  been  separately  administered,  were  amalgamated 
under  Brigadier-General  Stedman  as  Inspector-General, 
assisted  by  two  Deputy  Inspectors-General,  one  for  Civil, 
and  one  for  Military  Police. 

By  the  end  of  the  following  year  {1889-90)  the  troops 
throughout  Burma  still  numbered  15,608,  while  the  Mili- 
tary Police  force  aggregated  18,618,  giving  a  total  fighting 
strength  of  34,226  men.  But  matters  had  meanwhile 
progressed  so  favorably  that  the  six  separate  minor  com- 
mands directly  under  the  Major-General  commanding 
were  abolished,  the  troops  being  distributed  among  the 
three  district  commands  under  Brigadiers-General  at 
Rangoon,  Mandalay,  and  Myingyan,  and  the  Chin  ex- 
peditionary force  under  Brigadier-General  (the  late  Sir 
William  Penn)  Symons.  The  energy  with  which  rebels 
were   run  down   and   dacoit   gangs  dispersed  effected   a 



marked  reduction  in  violent  crime  throughout  almost 
every  district.  Lower  Burma  had  regained  its  normal 
condition  as  before  the  last  war.  Mandalay  was  freed 
from  a  troublesome  gang,  headed  by  Nga  To,  and  district 
officers  no  longer  required  escorts  for  their  protection  on 
tour.  In  Kyauks^  a  rebel  band  raised  by  Kyaw  Zaw, 
one  of  the  late  Setkya  pretender  s  adherents,  was  dis- 
persed. Pakokku,  Yam^thin,  Meiktila,  Pymmand,  and 
Sagaing  remained  undisturbed  throughout  the  year ; 
while  the  Upper  and  Lower  Chindwin  districts,  Katha, 
the  Ruby  Mines,  Shwebo,  and  Yeii  were  reduced  to 
order.  In  this  last  district  the  two  remaining  leaders  of 
note.  Van  Gyi  Aung  and  Nga  Aga,  were  induced  to 
surrender  through  the  intermediation  of  the  Gaing  Ok  or 
Buddhist  bishop  of  the  district.  The  Sawbwa  of  Wun- 
tho  at  length  made  his  personal  submission  at  Katha, 
and  sent  his  wife  and  his  sons  to  visit  the  Commissioner 
at  Mandalay. 

In  Minbu  Oktama  was  captured  in  June,  1889,  while 
most  of  his  lieutenants  and  other  independent  dacoit 
leaders  either  surrendered  themselves  or  else  were 
killed  or  captured,  and  organized  dacoity  was  practically 
suppressed.  For  the  reduction  of  the  lawlessness  and 
disorganization  of  the  turbulent  Magwe  district  special 
operations  were  undertaken  with  so  marked  success  that 
during  the  third  quarter  of  the  year  only  one  violent 
crime,  a  petty  robbery,  was  reported. 

As  district  after  district  became  pacified  and  settled  the 
gradual  replacement  of  military  posts  by  Military  Police 
posts  in  the  interior  of  Upper  Burma  was  effected.  At 
the  beginning  of  1887  there  were  142  posts  held  by 
troops  and  56  by  Military  Police;  by  the  following  year 
the  numbers  had  changed  to  84  and  1 75  respectively ; 
and  early  in  1889  only  41  were  held  by  troops  and  192 
by  Military  Police.  By  the  summer  of  1889  organized 
resistance  to  the  British  Government  had  collapsed  so 
thoroughly  throughout  Upper  Burma  that  it  was  found 
possible  to  reduce  the  number  of  Military  Police  posts 
and  to  maintain  smaller  garrisons  at  those  still  kept  up. 
In  all  the  more  settled  districts  arrangements  were  there- 
fore made  to  concentrate,  as  a  strong  and  highly  trained 



reserve,  about  half  the  strength  of  each  battalion  at  the 
headquarters  of  each  civil  district ;  but  this  scheme  of 
course  did  not  apply  to  districts  like  Bhamo,  where  the 
Military  Police  had  to  protect  extensive  tracts  against  the 
raids  of  wild  hill  tribes,  or  Katha,  where  disorder  on 
the  borders  of  the  Wuntho  State  still  rendered  such  a 
scheme  impracticable.  Changes  were  also  made  in  the 
organization  of  the  Military  Police  by  the  amalgamation 
of  two  or  more  battalions  with  the  object  of  reducing  the 
strength  and  the  cost  of  the  large  total  force. 

After  General  Wolseley's  expedition  in  April  1889  the 
Ponkan  Kachins  to  the  soutli-east  of  Bhamo  gave  no 
further  trouble,  while  that  part  of  the  district  was  also 
relieved  by  the  capture  of  the  pretender,  calling  himself 
Buddha  Ydza.  Kan  Hlaing,  the  Mohlaing-Momeik 
claimant,  and  Saw  Yan  Hnaing,  King  Mindon's  grand- 
son, were  harboured  by  the  Lwesaing-Tonhon  Kachins, 
and  continued  to  cause  trouble  in  the  Sinkan  township, 
and  on  the  borders  of  the  Mong  Mit  State.  Columns 
were  therefore  sent  against  them  in  December,  1889,  from 
Bhamo  and  Mong  Mit,  which  destroyed  the  village  of 
Lwesaing,  received  the  submission  of  all  the  villages  in  the 
Lwesaing-Tonhon  tract,  levied  fines  on  all  villages  which 
had  harboured  or  assisted  the  pretenders,  and  brought  in 
some  of  the  headmen  as  prisoners.  The  result  of  the 
expedition  was  the  complete  submission  of  the  Kachin 
tribes  in  the  Upper  Sinkan  valley,  who  were  taught  a 
severe  lesson  ;  but  Saw  Yan  Hnaing  and  Kan  Hlaing, 
though  expelled  from  their  retreats,  evaded  capture  and 
managed  to  effect  their  escape  into  Chinese  territory. 

To  the  west  of  the  Chindwin  river  the  operations  of  the 
previous  season  against  the  Chin  tribes,  which  had  been 
interrupted  by  the  rains,  were  also  in  December,  1889, 
recommenced  under  Brigadier-General  Symons.  The 
objects  of  the  expedition  were  attained  without  any 
serious  resistance,  The  powerful  Tashon  tribes  and  the 
Baungshe  tendered  their  submission,  gave  up  captives 
they  had  kidnapped,  paid  the  fines  levied  on  them,  and 
promised  compliance  with  the  demands  of  Government. 
The  ex-Sawbwa  of  KaM  surrendered  himself  from  his 
retreat  among  them,  and  was  permitted   to  resume  the 



pension  previously  allowed  to  him  after  his  deposition. 
For  dealing  with  the  Chins,  military  posts  with  political 
officers  were  established  at  Fort  White  among  the  north- 
ern tribes,  and  at  Hdka  for  the  southern  tribes. 

The  Shan  States  remained  peaceful  and  undisturbed, 
except  for  a  petty  abortive  insurrection  in  North  Theinni, 
which  was  promptly  stopped,  on  Kun  Yi,  the  pretender, 
being  killed  in  action.  The  whole  of  these  States  were 
now  entirely  garrisoned  by  Military  Police.  In  the 
southern  and  eastern  Shan  States  the  chief  events  of 
the  year  were  the  submission  of  the  Sawbwa  of  Keng- 
tung,  the  most  important  of  the  Shan  States  lying  to  the 
east  of  the  Salween  river,  to  the  Superintendent,  and  the 
work  carried  out  by  the  Anglo-Siamese  Commission 
under  Mr.  Ney  Elias,  CLE.,  appointed  by  the  Govern- 
ment of  India  for  the  settlement  of  various  territorial 
questions  on  the  south-eastern  frontier  of  the  Shan  States 
and  Karenni.  At  the  time  of  the  expedition  against 
Eastern  Karenni  in  1888-89,  Siamese  troops  occupied 
tracts  east  of  the  Salween,  which  had  long  been  inhabited 
by  settlers  from  Eastern  Karenni.  This  territory  was 
claimed  as  part  of  the  Siamese  province  of  Chiengmai 
(Zimme) ;  new  claims  were  also  advanced  to  the  trans- 
Salween  tracts  of  Maingmaw  and  Mesakon,  appanages 
of  the  State  of  Mawkme ;  and  old  claims,  previously 
asserted,  were  maintained  in  respect  of  four  small 
States  which  had  been  made  over  to  the  Maingpan 
Sawbwa  late  in  1888.  The  points  in  dispute  were  to 
have  been  investigated  by  a  joint  commission,  but  finally 
the  Siamese  Government  declined  to  join  in  the  enquiry, 
which  had  accordingly  to  be  carried  out  ex  parte.  The 
two  appanages  were  restored  to  Mawkme,  and  the  four 
small  States  made  over  to  the  Sawbwa  of  Maingpan  and 
Maingtun,  while  a  report  on  the  more  important  territorial 
question  was  submitted  for  the  orders  of  the  Government 
of  India.  It  was  not  until  1892  that  Sawlawi,  chief  of 
Eastern  Karenni,  was,  with  the  concurrence  of  Siam,  re- 
instated in  his  trans-Salween  possessions. 

In  March,  1890,  Sir  Charles  Crosthwaite,  Chief  Com- 
missioner of  Burma,  visited  the  Shan  States  for  the  first 
time  and  held  a  durbar  at   Fort  Stedman,  which  was 



attended  by  nearly  all  the  cis-Salween  chiefs  and  the 
notables  of  the  eastern  and  southern  States. 

The  only  fresh  legislation  relating  to  Upper  Burma 
was  the  Land  and  Revenue  Regulation,  1889,  declaring 
the  law  regarding  rights  of  land,  providing  for  the 
assessment  and  collection  of  revenue,  and  formulating  a 
complete  system  of  revenue  law,  based  as  far  as  possible 
on  the  ascertained  customs  of  the  country. 

By  the  end  of  1 890  the  work  of  pacification  through- 
out Upper  Burma  was  complete,  and  there  were  fewer 
violent  crimes  there  than  in  Lower  Burma  during  the 
year  1890-91.  Reductions  ir.  the  strength  of  the  gar- 
rison could,  however,  not  yet  be  ventured  on,  as  much 
still  remained  to  be  done  in  the  frontier  tracts.  Three 
battalions  of  military  police,  numbering  over  3,000  men, 
were  converted  from  frontier  levies  into  battalions  of  the 
native  army,  and  further  conversions,  affecting  other 
3,000,  were  under  consideration  and  soon  to  be  sanc- 
tioned. Major- General  Gordon  made  over  charge  of 
the  Burma  command  on  31st  May,  1890,  to  Brigadier- 
General  Wolseley,  who  was  relieved  on  26th  October 
by  Major-General  R.  C.  Stewart,  C.  B.  The  troops 
amounted  to  18,763,  while  the  Military  Police  numbered 
16,506,  representing  a  total  effective  strength  of  35,269 

During  the  first  year  after  the  annexation  the  crushing 
of  organized  rebellion  and  of  armed  resistance  occupied 
the  attention  of  Government  so  fully  that  it  was  not 
possible  to  introduce  regular  methods  and  systematic 
administration,  but  in  the  succeeding  four  years  every 
district  in  Upper  Burma  was  gradually  reduced  to  order, 
and  organized  crime  had  entirely  disappeared  from  any 
part  of  the  whole  province.  The  only  remaining  elements 
of  disturbance  were  the  wild  tribes  inhabiting  the  forest- 
clad  hills  of  the  northern  frontier  districts.  Before  the 
end  of  1890  no  pretender,  no  rebel,  or  no  dacoit  Bo 
having  any  considerable  following  was  to  be  found 
throughout  what  had  formerly  been  the  kingdom  of  Ava. 
All  such  leaders  who  had  not  surrendered  or  died,  or 
else  had  not  been  killed  or  captured,  were  in  hiding  and 
deserted  by  their  former  adherents.     Except  among  the 



Chin  and  the  Kachin  hill-tribes,  district  officers  could 
move  about  freely  without  escorts.  In  every  case  in 
which  organized  rebellion  or  dacoity  was  suppressed, 
terms  were  offered  to  all  except  the  principal  leaders  and 
men  personally  concerned  in  atrocious  crimes ;  and  in 
almost  every  district  in  Upper  Burma  large  numbers  of 
released  or  surrendered  dacoits  were  living  under  sur- 
veillance, but  otherwise  unmolested,  and  engaging  in 
peaceful  pursuits.  The  powerful  and  efficient  body  of 
Military  Police  was  in  course  of  transformation  into 
battalions  of  the  regular  native  army ;  civil  police  had 
been  organized  in  every  district,  and  real  progress  was 
being  made  in  the  prevention  and  detection  of  crime  ; 
and  the  district  administration  had  been  gradually 
assimilated  to  that  obtaining  in  the  older  portion  of  the 
province.  But  no  encouragement  was  given  to  the 
natural  tendency  of  officers  to  attempt  to  arrange  district 
work  after  the  pattern  to  which  they  had  been  accustomed 
in  Lower  Burma.  While  purifying  corrupt  methods  and 
removing  barbarous  enormities,  the  maintenance  of  the 
spirit  of  the  Burmese  administration  was  desired ;  the 
customs  and  prejudices  of  the  new  subjects  were  inter- 
fered with  as  little  as  possible ;  and  particular  care  was 
taken  not  to  attempt  to  force  upon  them  a  brand-new 
system  of  administration,  inconsistent  with  their  national 
genius  or  habits.  Special  attention  was  given  to  the 
maintenance  of  the  village  community  system,  which  was 
at  the  earliest  possible  opportunity  placed  on  a  secure 
legal  basis.  In  training  the  necessary  subordinate  staff 
to  provide  for  the  administration  of  justice  and  the 
collection  of  revenue,  full  use  was  made  of  loyal  Burmese 
officers,  many  of  whom  rendered  conspicuous  service. 
Government  public  offices  had  been  erected  at  the  head- 
quarters of  districts,  and  suitable  jails  were  constructed  ; 
while  the  judicial  administration  was  under  the  control 
of  an  experienced  officer.  In  the  larger  towns  a  simple 
system  of  municipal  government  was  introduced,  but  no 
attempt  was  made  to  extend  the  principle  of  self-govern- 
ment beyond  the  limits  which  the  circumstances  of  the 
newly  -  acquired  province  rendered  necessary.  The 
educational  needs  of  the    country   were  examined,  and 

145  L 


steps   were   being   gradually    taken    to    strengthen   and 
improve,    while   abstaining    from    needless    interference 
with,  the  simple  elementary  tuition  in  reading,  writing, 
and  arithmetic  at  monasteries  by  the  gradual   introduc- 
tion of  a  sound  and  practical  scheme  of  public  instruction. 
Dispensaries  were   open  at  the  headquarters  of  every 
district,  and  during   1890  medical  relief  was  afforded  to 
nearly    100,000   patients,  representing   more   than   one- 
thirty-fifth  of  the  total  population.     The  revenue  system 
had  been   examined  and  put  on  a  satisfactory  footing, 
with  the  result  that  it  had  increased  to  about  1 13  lacs  of 
rupees  (^753-333)  during  1890,  or  some  8  lacs  (253.333) 
more  than  the  largest  revenue  which  had  ever  found  its 
way  in  any  year  into  the  royal  treasury  at  Mandalay  ; 
and    this    increase  was    effected   without   imposing   any 
fresh  taxation  or  burden  on  the  people,  although  during 
the  same  time  some  obnoxious  and  oppressive  imposts 
had  been  abolished.     In  the  dry  central   zone — where 
denudation   of  the  original    forests   in  times   past   now 
very  seriously  affects  the  rainfall,  the  humidity  of  the  air, 
and  the  water-storage  capacity  of  the  soil,  where  agri- 
culture is  consequently  precarious,  and  where  scarcity 
often  amounting  almost  to  famine  is  liable  to  occur  to  a 
greater  or  less  extent  every  few  years — the  irrigation 
works  of  former  days,  which  had  long  since  been  allowed 
to  fall  into  disrepair,  were  examined  with  a  view  to  the 
repair  of  the  old  works  and  the  construction  of  a  new 
irrigation   system.     The  forests,  containing   the  richest 
supplies  of  teak  timber  in  the  world,   which  had  been 
worked   in  a  most  wasteful   manner  during  the   King's 
time,    had    already    been    brought    under    systematic 
management  by  the  Forest  Department,  and  consider- 
able progress  was  being  made  in  their  examination  and 
survey,  and  in  the  selection  of  the  better  portions  for  the 
formation  of  permanent  State  Reserves. 

The  material  welfare  of  the  people  and  the  develop- 
ment of  the  natural  resources  of  the  country  had  mean- 
while not  been  neglected.  Next  to  the  establishment  of 
peace,  the  most  urgent  need  was  the  improvement  of 
means  of  conimunication.  There  was  a  large  expendi- 
ture on   public  works.      The   extension  of  the   railway 



from  Toungoo  to  Mandalay  provided  the  best  possible 
means  of  communication  through  a  land-locked  part  of 
the  province,  enabled  food  supplies  to  be  easily  poured 
into  the  dry  central  zone  liable  to  suffer  from  scarcity, 
and  gave  the  population  there  the  means  of  going  away 
and  settling  in  other  districts  where  agriculture  was  less 
precarious.  So  peaceful  were  the  tracts  between  Man- 
dalay and  the  old  frontier  that  passenger  trains  were 
now  running  through  from  Rangoon  by  night  as  well  as 
by  day.  To  the  west  of  the  Irrawaddy  the  construction 
of  a  line,  begun  in  1889-90,  was  being  rapidly  extended 
northwards  through  fertile  tracts  rich  in  natural  resources. 
The  open  season  of  1889-90  also  saw  the  commencement 
of  reconnaissance  surveys  for  a  railway  running  east- 
wards from  Mandalay  across  the  Shan  plateau,  through 
Thibaw  and  Lashio,  onwards  towards  the  Kunlon  ferry 
on  the  Salween,  whence  important  trade  routes  branched 
northwards,  eastwards,  and  southwards  into  Yunnan  and 
the  eastern  and  the  Siamese  Shan  States.  Well-aligned 
cart  roads  were  opened  out  from  Meiktila  to  Fort  Sted- 
man,  the  capital  of  the  southern  Shan  States,  and  from 
Mandalay  to  Thibaw  on  the  way  to  Lashio,  the  head- 
quarters of  the  northern  Shan  States ;  while  Mogok,  the 
centre  of  the  ruby  mining  industry,  was  similarly  brought 
in  touch  with  Thabeitkyin  on  the  Irrawaddy  river. 
Telegraphic  communication  had  existed  from  Mandalay 
to  Rangoon  in  the  Burmese  time,  but  the  line  had  to  be 
reconstructed  and  maintained  in  spite  of  continual  in- 
terruptions occasioned  by  dacoits,  who  cut  up  the  wire 
to  use  as  slugs.  Now  a  network  of  lines  connected  the 
heart  of  the  Chin  hills  on  the  west,  the  centre  of  the 
Shan  States  on  the  east,  and  Bhamo  and  Mogaung  on 
the  north,  with  the  lines  converging  on  Rangoon  and 
extending  everywhere  throughout  the  older  part  of  the 
province.  By  the  end  of  1890  there  were  nearly  4,000 
miles  of  telegraph  lines  and  some  fifty  offices  open  in 
Upper  Burma,  and  over  700,000  messages  were  con- 
veyed across  them  during  that  year.  The  work  done 
by  the  Telegraph  Department  contributed  greatly  to  the 
progress  of  the  civil  and  military  administration. 

In  the  settlement  of  frontier  affairs  equally  good  pro- 



gress  had  also  been  made.  Before  the  annexation,  and 
for  about  a  year  after  it,  the  Shan  States  were  in  a 
chaotic  state  of  anarchy  ;  but  now  all  the  chiefs  who 
owed  allegiance  to  the  King  of  Ava  had  tendered  their 
submission  and  become  peaceful  subjects  of  the  British 
Government,  whose  influence  had  been  extended  across 
the  Salween  river  so  as  to  bring  Kengtung,  the  most 
important  of  the  trans-Salween  States,  into  subordinate 
alliance.  Internecine  warfare  had  been  stopped,  and  the 
paths  of  peace  were  open  leading  towards  a  prosperity 
hitherto  unknown.  Eastern  Karenni  had  been  brought 
under  British  protection,  and  satisfactory  arrangements 
made  for  its  administration.  On  the  northern  and  north- 
western fringes  of  the  province  the  Kachin  tribes  had 
learned  by  drastic  lessons  that  raiding  and  acts  of  violence 
were  no  longer  to  be  permitted ;  while  the  more  im- 
portant of  the  Chin  tribes  on  the  western  border  had  by 
similar  punitive  treatment  been  brought  to  tender  their 
submission,  and  arrangements  were  being  made  for  the 
permanent  occupation  of  their  country,  for  the  enforce- 
ment of  administrative  authority,  and  for  opening  it  up 
by  means  of  good  lines  of  communication. 

These  admirable  results  were  attained  within  five 
years  of  the  annexation  of  Upper  Burma,  or  in  about 
half  the  time  that  had  been  required  for  the  pacification 
of  Lower  Burma  after  the  second  Burmese  war.  When 
Sir  Charles  Crosthwaite  handed  over  the  Chief  Com- 
missionership  of  Burma  to  his  successor,  Sir  Alexander 
Mackenzie,  on  loth  December,  1890,  after  nearly  four 
years  of  the  heaviest  responsibility  that  had  fallen  upon 
any  of  the  Indian  administrators  of  that  time,  the  founda- 
tions of  future  prosperity  and  happiness  were  securely 
laid  for  a  people  who  had  borne,  with  admirable  patience, 
contentment,  and  passive  fortitude  the  misfortunes 
brought  upon  them  by  the  misgovernment  of  their  King 
and  his  Court,  and  by  the  crimes  and  barbarities  of  their 
own  fellow-countrymen.  Since  the  days  of  the  Indian 
Mutiny,  in  1857-59,  neither  civilians  nor  soldiery  had 
had  such  calls  made  upon  their  strength,  energy,  endur- 
ance, and  devotion  to  duty  as  during  these  five  anxious  and 
eventful  years  of  the  pacification  and  settlement  of  Upper 



Burma ;  and  these  calls  were  responded  to  in  a  manner 
befitting  the  heirs  of  the  noble  heritage  to  which  English- 
men are  born,  and  worthy  of  the  best  and  noblest 
traditions  of  the  Civil  and  Military  Services  in  India. 

What  the  third  Burmese  war  and  the  pacification  of 
Upper  Burma  actually  cost  in  money,  incurred  on  purely 
military  expenditure,  may  partly  be  seen  from  the  table 
given  below.  Apart  from  the  special  expenditure,  the 
normal  military  charges  incurred  by  Burma  have  been 
raised  from  a  little  over  ^190,000  for  Lower  Burma  during 
the  year  1884-85  to  somewhat  over  ;if  600,000  a  year  now 
for  the  whole  province.  But  the  territory  to  be  protected 
has  been  increased  by  nearly  150  per  cent,  and  the 
frontiers  have  been  advanced  so  as  now  to  march  with 
those  of  Siam,  French  Indo-China,  and  China  beyond 
the  new  territories  acquired  to  the  north-east.  Regarded 
from  a  financial  point  of  view,  the  conquest  was  abnor- 
mally cheap  at  the  price.  The  garrison  on  31st  March, 
1900,  consisted  of  only  10,324  troops  (2,811  European 
and  7,513  Native),  but  this  was  about  2,000  below  the 
normal  strength  of  the  previous  year. 

The  war,  and  the  five  years 

occupied  in  the  work  of 


The  period  of  transition 
to  settled  administration. 

The  normal  garrison 
of  Burma. 









1887-88 1 




635,600       1 
(not  obtainable) 





)  (not  ob- 
)  tainable) 

1  The  figures  for  1887-88  are  still  regarded  as  confidential. 

"  The  decrease  in  1887  to  1890  was  due  to  the  formation  of  the 
Military  Police,  maintained  from  civil  expenditure ;  and  the  increase 
beginning  again  in  1891  is  due  to  the  conversion  of  several  battalions 
of  Military  Police  into  regular  troops  as  Burma  regiments. 

3  '*  It  is  not  possible  to  furnish  the  figures  .  .  .  showing  separately 
the  military  expenditure  incurred  in  Burma  .  .  .  the  military  expendi- 
ture is  classified  only  under  the  heads  of  the  four  commands,  viz.  : 
Punjab,  Bengal,  Madras,  and  Bombay"  (India  Office,  f.  1022,  dated 
5  March,  1901). 


chapter    VI 


"  y^HE  Burmese  Sovereign  of  the  Rising  Sun  who  rules 
over  the  country  of  Thundpardnta  and  the  country 
of  Tdmbadipd,  with  all  the  other  great  do7ninions  and 
countries,  and  all  the  Umbrella-bearing  Chiefs  of  the 
East,  whose  Glory  is  exceeding  great  and  excellent,  the 
Master  of  the  King  Elephant,  Sadddn,  the  Lord  of  many 
White  Elephants,  the  Lord  of  Life,  the  eininently  just 
Ruler'' — so  ran  the  descriptive  legend  heading  all  royal 
letters— was  a  despotic  ruler.  The  King's  power  was 
absolute  :  but  the  administration  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava, 
extending  to  about  120,000  square  miles,  scantily  popu- 
lated with  some  three  and  a  half  millions  of  inhabitants, 
was  carried  on  by  means  of  Ministers  whose  number, 
rank,  and  functions  were  defined  by  constitutional  pre- 
cedent. The  details  relating  to  their  appointment  and 
duties  were  embodied  in  a  book  called  the  Lawka 
Pyuha  or  Inyon  Saok,  which  likewise  described  with 
minute  detail  the  ceremonies  and  etiquette  of  the  court, 
and  might  be  considered  the  official  code  of  Sumptuary 

Immediately  after  the  close  of  the  second  Burmese 
war  King  Pagdn  was  deposed  by  his  brother,  the  Mindon 
Prince,  who,  occupying  the  throne  in  1853,  ruled  the 
kingdom  with  a  considerable  degree  of  enlightenment 
till  his  death  in  1878.  King  Mindon,  or  Min  Taydgyi, 
"  the  great  lawgiver,"  had  strong  commercial  instincts, 
which  were  allied  to  a  desire  to  bring  his  country  more 
in  a  line  with  the  position  of  the  civilized  nations  of  the 
West.  He  was,  for  a  ruler  of  Ava,  a  humane  man.  In 
place  of  putting  the  Pagdn  Min   to  death,  according  to 



ancient  custom  with  regard  to  rivals  in  Burma,  as  in 
most  eastern  countries,  the  deposed  monarch's  Hfe  was 
spared.  He  lived  in  his  own  house  ;  he  survived  his 
successor  on  the  throne  ;  and  he  finally  died  a  natural 
death  in  his  bed.  King  Mindon  was  an  enlightened 
ruler.  Though  he  professed  no  love  for  the  British,  he 
recognized  their  power  and  kept  on  friendly  terms  with 
them.  So  far  as  was  compatible  with  the  maintenance 
of  his  own  autocratic  power,  he  was  anxious  to  introduce 
Western  ideas  and  civilization  into  his  kingdom.  He 
deputed  envoys  to  Europe  in  order  to  study  the  indus- 
trial arts,  and  sent  young  men  of  good  families  to  Eng- 
land, France,  and  Italy  to  learn  the  languages  and 
customs  of  those  countries.  Though  his  zeal  was  not 
always  tempered  by  discretion,  he  did  much  to  improve 
the  revenues  and  promote  the  prosperity  of  his  country. 

The  wisest  of  all  the  Burmese  monarchs,  Mindon  kept 
the  reins  of  government  firmly  in  his  own  hands  through- 
out the  whole  of  the  quarter  of  a  century  of  his  rule. 
Though  he  held  sway  over  much  less  territory  than  his 
forefathers  had  done,  yet  he  was  deeply  anxious  to  main- 
tain untarnished  their  full  regal  splendour. 

At  the  Court  of  Ava  there  were  two  classes  of  Bur- 
mese Ministers.  The  authority  and  the  responsibility  of 
one  class  were  restricted  to  the  palace,  somewhat  in  the 
manner  of  officers  of  the  Royal  Household,  whilst  within 
the  other  class  were  included  all  the  important  administra- 
tive offices  of  the  State.  During  the  latter  days  of  the 
kingdom  of  Ava,  however,  these  original  distinctions  had 
become  materially  obliterated  for  all  practical  purposes, 
though  the  two  classes  of  officials  were  still  maintained 
in  separate  categories  so  far  as  mere  nomenclature  was 

The  first  class  comprised  the  officials  of  the  Byedaik 
(literally  "bachelors'  quarters"),  the  Privy  Council  or 
Secret  Department  of  the  Burmese  Court,  whose  public 
offices  were  located  in  a  part  of  the  northern  side  of  the 
palace  which  had  formerly  been  allotted  to  the  King's 
young  men,  and  to  which  the  King  used  sometimes  to 
go  in  order  to  see  the  royal  elephants  at  exercise.  The 
second  category  formed  the  Hkttdaw  or  Great  Council 



of  State,  whose  functions  combined  those  of  a  Legislative 
Chamber,  a  Ministerial  Cabinet,  and  a  Supreme  Court  of 
Civil  and  Criminal  Justice.  The  State  Council  Chamber — 
"for  both  the  Council  and  the  Council  Hall  were  included 
in  the  word  "  Hlutciaw''  meaning  literally  "  the  place  of 
release,"  or  ''place  du  congi  cCilire'' — was  situated  in  the 
outer  court  or  esplanade  between  the  Tagdni,  the  "  Red 
Gate,"  or  royal  entrance  to  the  inner  portions  of  the 
palace  on  the  eastern  side,  and  the  outer  gate  of  the 
palace  enclosure.  The  offices  of  the  various  Ministers 
of  the  Hint  were  enclosed  near  at  hand  within  the  same 

The  King  was  the  nominal  head  of  the  Hlutdaw,  but 
on  all  ordinary  occasions  its  meetings  were  presided  over 
by  whomsoever  happened  for  the  time  to  be  the  most  in- 
fluential of  the  four  Mingyi  ("  great  rulers  ")  or  Wungyi 
("  those  bearing  the  great  burden  ").  These  were  the 
highest  officials  in  the  kingdom,  occupying  posts  some- 
what similar  to  those  filled  by  our  Cabinet  Ministers  or 
principal  Secretaries  of  State.  The  offices  were  not 
hereditary,  being  merely  conferred  from  time  to  time 
by  the  King.  Each  of  these  four  chief  Ministers  had 
his  own  portfolio  or  department,  though  at  the  same 
time  there  was  no  hard  and  fast  line  drawn  as  to  the 
distribution  of  the  work  coming  before  the  council  for 
disposal.  Each  Mingyi  might  have  all  sorts  of  adminis- 
trative work  to  investigate  and  dispose  of,  and  each  had 
his  own  separate  departmental  seal  to  affix  to  orders  and 
palm-leaf  correspondence.  The  business  demanding  his 
attention  might  range  from  questions  relating  to  agri- 
culture, forestry,  finance  or  politics,  up  to  the  decision  of 
civil  or  criminal  law  cases,  and  might  at  times  involve  mili- 
tary duty  even  to  the  utmost  extent  of  personally  taking 
the  field  in  charge  of  an  army. 

Lower  in  rank  than  the  four  Mingyi  came  two  other 
high  officials  charged  with  the  performance  of  very  mis* 
cellaneous  duties,  as  is  almost  implied  in  their  designa- 
tions, the  Myinzugyi  Wun,  or  "  governor  of  the  chief 
cavalry  regiment,"  and  the  Athiwun,  or  "  governor  of 
those  who  are  not  in  the  royal  service." 

A   grade   lower   still    came  the    four    Wundank,    the 



Undersecretaries  of  State,  or  "  sharers  of  the  burden  "  of 
the  Mingyi,  each  of  whom  had  one  or  more  departments 
of  official  business  allotted  to  his  care,  here  also  without 
any  rigid  lines  being  prescribed  as  to  the  distribution  of 
work.  This  title  of  Assistant  was  also  often  bestowed 
honoris  causd  on  provincial  officials  such  as  Governors 
of  Townships,  much  in  the  same  way  as  appointments 
are  made  in  Britain  to  the  Privy  Council.  This  mark 
of  royal  favour  neither  involved  or  authorized  attendance 
at  the  Hlut  or  Council  of  State. 

All  of  these  ten  highest  officials —  four  Mingyi,  two 
Wuft,  and  four  Wundauk  —  in  addition  to  possessing 
various  other  grandiloquent  titles,  were  usually  known 
by  some  territorial  appellation  having  reference  either  to 
a  province  or  to  a  large  district  or  town  made  over  to 
their  special  administration.  The  whole  kingdom  was 
subdivided  into  districts  called  Myo  or  "  townships," 
which  were  handed  over  to  these  and  to  less  exalted 
officials  for  administrative  purposes.  Each  such  official, 
no  matter  what  his  higher  title  might  be,  was  called  a 
Myosdy  or  "  eater  of  a  township  " — a  term  which  very 
graphically  hits  off  the  manner  in  which  the  bad  ones 
among  them  squeezed  the  district  of  all  the  revenue  it 
was  possible  to  lay  hands  on  from  a  submissive,  peaceful 
and  helpless  peasantry.  The  great  officers  of  the  Hlut- 
daw,  resident  close  to  the  main  gate  on  the  eastern  side 
of  the  palace  in  Mandalay,  could,  of  course,  only  perform 
their  duties  as  Governors  of  districts  by  means  of  depu- 
ties, who  remitted  to  them  enough  to  pay  the  royal 
revenue  demand  and  to  maintain  themselves  and  their 
establishments.  All  the  Governors  of  these  townships 
had  to  pay  in  fixed  annual  contributions  to  the  Shwedaik 
or  Royal  Treasury,  but  whatever  they  could  raise  be- 
yond this,  by  taxation  or  otherwise,  they  retained  for 
themselves.  It  was  in  this  manner  that  they  were  able 
to  "  eat  a  township."  Each  Myosd  or  "  eater  of  a  town- 
ship," was  in  reality  a  local  magnate  paying  tribute  either 
to  his  overlord  the  Mingyi,  or  to  their  suzerain  the 
King  of  Ava ;  and  within  his  own  district  he  had  enor- 
mous power  and  influence.  The  vast  distances  of  many 
of  the  towns  from  Mandalay,  the  capital,  the  entire  want 



of  good  roads,  or  of  any  other  means  of  communication 
except  along  the  great  water  highway,  the  Irrawaddy 
river,  and  the  difficulties  of  travelling  by  jungle  tracks 
for  the  greater  part  of  each  year,  all  helped  to  strengthen 
the  semi-independence  of  their  position.  They  were  un- 
controlled by  telegraph  lines  or  daily  postal  service,  and 
no  public  press  existed  to  indicate  any  opinions  held  by 
those  under  their  rule.  Instructions  from  the  central 
authority  were  often  treated  with  indifference,  and  orders 
from  Mandalay  did  not  necessarily  carry  the  same  weight 
as  attaches  to  similar  missives  in  more  civilized  countries. 
Even  the  execution  of  royal  orders  could  sometimes  only 
be  relied  on  as  far  as  they  could  be  carried  out  by  armed 

Until  the  kingdom  of  Burma  began  to  be  shorn  of  its^ 
coast  provinces  by  wars  with  the  British;;^ach  of  the  prin- 
cipal provinces  of  Rangoon,  Tenasserim,  Martaban,  and 
Arakan  was  ruled  by  a  Wun  or  Governor,  who  was  in 
reality  a  Viceroy  appointed  by  the  King  with  full  civil, 
judicial,  fiscal,  and  military  powers.  So  long  as  he  re- 
mitted the  full  amount  of  revenue  to  which  his  province 
was  assesse4  he  was  responsible  only  to  the  central 
Government  A  Provincial  Council,  consisting  of  Myo 
Sayd  or  "  tow'h-writers,"  Nakd7idaw  or  "receivers  of 
royal  orders,"  and  Sitke  or  "  chiefs  of  war,"  met  daily 
in  the  courthouse  and  made  reports  to  the  GovernoJ>_ 
The  other  chief  officials  at  the  seats  of  provincial  govern- 
ment were  the  Taung/imu  or  "jailer,"  the  Aydtgaung 
or  "  heads  of  quarters  "  of  the  town,  and  the  Tagdhnii^ 
or  "warden  of  the  gates.'^The  governorship  was  divided 
into  townships,  each  in  charge  of  a  township  officer  who 
was  called  Myo  Ok  or  "  ruler  of  the  town,"  if  he  were 
only  appointed  to  the  office  from  time  to  time,  but  was 
known  as  Myo  Tkugyi,  or  "mayor  of  the  town,"  if  he_ 
held  office  by  hereditary  right.  -  The  Viceroy  of  Pegu  had' 
more  extensive  powers  than  any  of  the  other  Governors, 
but  he  could  not  interfere  in  any  way  with  their  authority 
in  their  own  jurisdiction.  In  addition  to  the  usual 
staff  he  had  the  special  assistance  of  an  Akunwun  or 
"  revenue  officer,"  2Si  Akaukwtui  or  "  collector  of  customs," 
and  a  Y^mu7i  or  "  conservator  of  the  port,"  whose  jurisdic- 



tion  extended  for  a  considerable  distance  inland  on  the 
river  Irrawaddy  and  in  the  country  situated  within  the 
immediate  vicinity  of  its  banks.  Besides  the  fixed  revenue 
demand  levied  direct  from  householders,  there  were  many 
imposts  of  various  sorts,  including  taxes  on  ploughs,  on 
palm  trees,  and  on  brokerage,  transit  dues,  dues  on  sale 
of  cattle,  on  produce,  and  on  fisheries,  fees  on  lawsuits 
and  criminal  fines,  and  special  remittances  annually  as 
presents  for  the  King.  The  local  officials  received  no 
regular  salary,  but  were  paid  by  a  portion  of  these  fees 
and  dues,  so  that  their  interests  lay  in  raising  them  as 
high  as  they  could  or  dared.  They  had  just  to  feather 
their  nests  as  they  best  could.  Whenever  men  were 
called  out  to  perform  any  particular  duty,  or  to  protect 
the  frontier,  they  had  to  be  supported  by  the  tract  in 

question  ;  and,  finally,  special  royal  demands  had  to  be 

met  from  time  to  time.  Of  these  the  most  excessive  was 
probably  that  of  thirty-three  and  one-third  ticals  of  silver 
per  household  levied  by  King  Bodaw  Paya  in  1798, 
which  took  two  years  to  collect,  and  brought  in  sixty 
lacs  of  rupees  (^600,000)  to  the  royal  treasury. 

When  walking  abroad,  a  red  umbrella  was  borne  above 
an  official,  while  his  residence  was  marked  by  having  a 
cross-bar  over  the  gate  and  the  privilege  of  having  it 
painted  red. 

As  the  amounts  fixed  as  tribute  were  comparatively 
light  it  did  not  necessarily  follow  that  the  Myosd  ground 
down  and  oppressed  the  people  in  his  township  ;  but,  of 
course,  the  various  districts  ruled  over  by  the  deputies  of 
the  high  officials  of  the  Hlut  had  practically  to  satisfy 
the  demands  of  two  "town-eaters."  To  be  known  as 
possessed  of  much  ready  money  was  to  become  exposed 
to  the  danger  of  being  squeezed.  This  apprehension,  no 
doubt,  acting  in  addition  to  the  religious  feeling  of  the 
Buddhist  and  the  desire  to  acquire  benefits  in  the  next 
state  of  existence,  impelled  many,  who  might  otherwise 
have  accumulated  wealth,  to  be  lavish  in  works  of  "  re- 
ligious merit,"  such  as  building  monasteries,  pagodas, 
shrines,  bridges,  etc.,  and  to  spend  surplus  cash  in  feast- 
ing priests  or  entertaining  the  country-side  with  public 
theatrical  performances.      In   a  state  of  society  such  as 



existed  in  Upper  Burma  under  Burmese  rule,  the  repu- 
tation of  having  money  must,  in  a  district  governed  by 
a  grasping,  rapacious,  or  unconscientious  official,  have 
always  carried  with  it  a  sense  of  insecurity  and  even  of 
personal  danger.  The  very  obvious  disadvantages  of 
such  a  system  became  fully  apparent  to  King  Minddn, 
who  abolished  it  and  decreed  that  officials  of  all  classes, 
both  civil  and  military,  should  be  paid  by  fixed  salaries, 
while  the  plan  of  levying  definite  and  regular  taxes  was 
at  the  same  time  introduced.  This  was,  however,  only  a 
theoretical  reorganization.  The  salaries  were  never  paid 
punctually,  and  often  not  at  all ;  hence  the  innovations 
were  of  little  practical  effect.  But,  in  any  case,  the  title 
of  Myosd  was  retained  by  the  district  Governors  as  long 
as  the  kingdom  of  Ava  existed. 

In   the  Hhitdaw   the  authority   of    the  four  Mingyi 

I  or  Wiingyi  was  paramount,  though  it  was  partially 
I  shared  by  the  Wundauk  or  Assistants.  The  King  was 
I  nominally  the  President  of  the  Council,  or  in  his  absence 
1  the  heir  apparent  or  other  member  of  the  royal  family  : 
I      but,  practically,  the  Prime  Minister  for  the  time  being 

\ presided.      The   latter  bore  the  title  Kinwun  Mingyi, 

vor  "  governor  of  the  guard-houses."  Under  the  term 
Kin  were  comprised  not  only  all  octroi  stations  round  the 
capital  and  the  chief  towns  and  the  "guard-houses  "  of  all 
descriptions,  but  also  the  places  at  which  customs  dues 
were  levied,  and  the  military  posts  commanding  all  the 
several  trade  routes  crossing  the  administrative  frontier. 
Hence  the  honorary  title  borne  by  the  Prime  Minister 
combined  the  idea  of  "  Warden  of  the  Marches  "  with 
"Minister  of  Customs  and  Revenues."  His  departmental 
seal  was  a  "  scorpion  "  (Ki?i). 

All  important  business  was  submitted  to  the  Mingyi 
first  of  all,  a  large  number  of  subordinates  relieving  them, 
however,  from  the  tediousness  of  troublesome  details. 
It  might  even  happen,  and  as  a  matter  of  fact  such  occa- 
sions were  not  infrequent,  that  for  the  time  being  a  Wun- 
dauk enjoyed  the  royal  confidence  in  larger  measure  than 
any  of  the  Alingyi;  and  in  such  case  his  influence  with 
the  latter,  his  direct  official  superiors,  was  always  very 
great.    These  eight  Secretaries  and  Assistant  Secretaries 



of  State,  together  with  the  eight  Atwinwun,  the  Privy 
Counsellors  of  the  ByMaik  or  "  Ministers  of  the  In- 
terior," who  will  be  more  especially  referred  to  shortly, 
formed  the  Ministry  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava. 

The  chief  officials  in  the  departmental  secretariats  of 
the  Hlutdaw  were  the  four  Nakdndaw,  the  "  royal 
listeners "  or  "  receivers  of  royal  orders,"  who  were 
charged  with  the  duty  of  conveying  communications  to 
and  from  the  King  and  the  Council  of  State.  As 
insignia  of  their  high  office  they  bore  large  notebooks 
with  gilt  covers  within  which  the  written  orders  or 
counsels  were  inscribed. 

Next  to  these  in  rank  came  the  Say^dawgyi  or 
"great  chief  clerks."  Of  these  there  were  originally 
four,  but  in  course  of  time  the  number  was  increased  to 
about  twenty.  They  performed  multifarious  duties,  and 
were  really  officers  of  considerable  importance.  They 
practically  did  the  bulk  of  the  executive  work  and  of  the 
general  business ;  and  as  all  the  details  were  arranged  by 
them,  little  or  no  business  of  any  sort  could  be  gone 
through  in  the  Hlutdaw  without  their  assistance.  In 
addition  to  this,  they  held  all  preliminary  investigations 
concerning  any  judicial  matters  of  importance,  and  gave 
judgment  in  minor  civil  or  criminal  suits,  subject  to  the 
approval  and  confirmation  of  the  Mingyi. 

The  four  Ameindaiuyd  or  "  writers  of  the  great 
orders  "  ranked  next  in  dignity  and  position.  Their  duty 
was  to  prepare  and  issue  the  orders  of  Government  after 
all  the  necessary  preliminary  steps  had  been  duly  taken. 
The  handwriting  of  these  Clerks  of  the  Great  Council 
was  very  beautiful,  and  their  inscriptions  of  royal  orders 
were  really  works  of  art — an  art  that  is  now  likely  to 
become  entirely  lost. 

After  these  came  the  Athonsay^  (lit.  "  writers  of  use  ") 
or  Clerks  of  Works,  to  whom  were  entrusted  the  con- 
struction and  the  repairs  of  all  public  buildings.  Below 
these,  again,  came  two  classes  of  correspondence  clerks, 
the  Ahmddawyd  or  "  recorders  of  orders,"  who  drafted 
the  orders  and  letters  to  be  issued  by  the  Council  of 
State,  and  the  Awiyauk  (lit.  "  distant  arrivals "),  who 
received  and  read  letters  coming  from  a  distance  before 



submitting  them  to  the  Ministers.  Letters  for  the  King 
were  received  by  two  special  ceremonial  officers  called 
Thandawgdn,  one  of  whose  particular  functions  was  to 
open  the  letters  of  apology  received  from  all  such 
feudatory  Chiefs,  Ministers,  and  other  high  officials  as 
could  not,  or  would  not,  personally  attend  and  do 
homage  to  the  King  at  each  of  the  Kaddw  Pwe  or  "  beg 
pardon  festivals  "  which  formed  the  royal  levees  held 
three  times  a  year  in  the  palace  at  Mandalay.  These 
constituted  the  chief  ceremonial  gatherings  of  the  year, 
when  tributary  Princes  from  the  Shan  States,  Ministers, 
members  of  the  royal  family,  and  all  court  officials 
appeared  in  the  gorgeous  apparel  prescribed  for  their 
rank  or  office,  and  when  tribute  and  presents  were  sub- 
mitted to  the  King  in  the  great  open  Hall  of  Audience 
surmounted  by  the  lofty,  glittering,  and  graceful  nine- 
tiered  spire  of  the  My^nan,  held  to  be  "  the  centre  of 
the  universe,"  whose  apex  towers  above  the  spot  upon 
which  stands  the  Lion  throne,  the  chief  of  the  eight 
thrones  erected  at  various  places  within  the  palace 

Still  lower  down  in  the  scale  of  officials  connected 
with  the  Council  of  State  were  three  classes  of  cere- 
monial officers.  The  highest  of  these  were  the  Let- 
saungsayd  or  "  clerks  of  the  presents,"  who  read  out 
the  lists  of  the  offerings  made  to  the  King  at  the  royal 
levies.  Next  came  the  Yonzaw  or  "  masters  of  cere- 
monies," who  had  charge  of  all  the  arrangements  con- 
nected with  durbars  and  audiences  of  the  King.  They 
furnished  the  necessary  intimation  to  the  officers  whose 
attendance  might  either  be  specially  commanded  or  was 
required  in  the  usual  rotation,  communicated  to  them 
the  nature  of  the  business  to  be  transacted,  informed 
them  as  to  what  particular  kind  of  dress  they  were  to 
appear  in,  and  gave  any  other  requisite  instructions. 
The  last  or  lowest  class  consisted  of  the  Thissddawyd 
or  "recorders  of  great  oaths,"  who  administered  the 
oath  of  fealty  to  all  who  were  about  to  enter  the  royal 
service.  ^  Such  enlistment  took  place  under  a  prescribed 
ceremonial.  After  the  oath  had  been  written  down  on 
paper,  it  was  repeated  verbally  in  front  of  an  image  of 



Gaudama  by  the  candidate  for  employment.  The  paper 
was  then  burned,  and  the  ashes  were  put  into  a  cup  of 
water.  After  this  had  been  stirred  with  a  small  stick 
containing  models,  all  tied  up  together,  of  the  five 
weapons  of  warfare  used  by  the  Burmese — bow,  spear, 
sword,  musket,  and  cannon — the  solution  was  finally 
drunk  by  the  person  taking  the   ThissA  or  "  oath.",^_ 

The  highest  officers  of  the  Byedaik,  the  Privy" 
Council  or  Secret  Department  of  the  Court,  were  the 
eight  Atwinwun  or  "  Ministers  of  the  Interior."  Their 
chief  duties  were  to  communicate  the  business  of  the 
Hlutdaiv  to  the  King ;  but  they  were  likewise  charged 
with  the  transaction  of  general  affairs  relating  to  the 
interior  of  the  palace.  So  far  as  precedence  was  con- 
cerned, they  ranked  below  the  four  Mingyi,  but 
somewhat  in  advance  of  the  four  Wundauk  or  Assistant 
Secretaries  of  State,  though  the  relative  positions  of 
these  two  different  classes  of  officers  depended  to  a  very 
considerable  extent  on  the  amount  of  favour  bestowed 
on  the  given  individuals  by  the  King. 

These  eight  Atwinwun  of  the  Byedaik  slept  in  turn 
within  the  palace,  two  at  a  time,  along  with  an  equal 
number  of  the  high  officials  of  the  Hlutdaw.  Thus 
there  were  always  four  Ministers  at  the  palace  in  attend- 
ance on  the  King.  The  Atwinwun  went  to  office  in 
the  Byedaik  at  seven  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  were 
relieved  at  three  o'clock  on  the  following  day.  About 
nine  o'clock  in  the  morning  a  Mingyi  and  a  Wundauk 
came  in  from  the  Hlutdaw,  and  for  about  half  an  hour 
or  so  discussed  with  the  two  Atwinwun  any  business 
under  consideration  before  accompanying  them  to  the 
royal  presence.  Such  ministerial  lev^e  was  held  by  tlie 
King  every  morning.  Each  afternoon  another  informal 
audience  was  given  by  the  King,  which  was  termed  the 
Boskii  because  military  officers  {Bo)  were  then  per- 
mitted to  accompany  the  Atwinwun  into  the  royal 
chamber.  About  eight  o'clock  every  evening  a  third 
reception  took  place,  when  members  of  the  Hlutdaw 
again  presented  themselves  before  the  King  in  company 
with  the  Atwinwun.  It  was  then,  in  the  still  of  the 
evening,  when,  even   in  the  longest  days  of  June,  the 



short  tropical  twilight  had  long  since  faded  into  the  dark- 
ness of  night  and  the  fierce  heat  of  the  day  had  passed 
away,  that  the  general  affairs  of  the  State  were  quietly 
discussed  from  various  points  of  view  and  settled,  whilst 
all  business  of  a  more  purely  formal  or  of  any  special 
character  was  disposed  of  during  the  daytime.  On  all 
sides  of  the  palace  there  were  small  open  lounges  or 
SamSk  surmounted  by  spires  of  several  tiers  of  roofs, 
while  the  quaint  and  fantastic  gardens  and  palm  groves 
immediately  to  the  south-west  of  the  royal  chambers 
afforded  a  cool  and  pleasant  retreat  in  the  evening  where 
the  breeze  from  the  south  could  best  be  enjoyed.  Here 
paths  meandered  along  the  edges  of  narrow  artificial 
watercourses,  crossed  here  and  there  by  quaint  rustic 
bridges,  while  steps  led  through  grottoes  and  up  and 
down  curiously  contorted  and  grotesque  rocks  made 
artificially  with  Portland  cement.  Even  now,  when  this 
little  royal  garden  is  no  longer  kept  up  as  it  once  was,  it 
is  the  pleasantest  spot  in  Mandalay  during  the  long 
arid  and  hot  season  of  the  year. 

Next  in  rank  after  the  Atwinwun  in  the  Secret 
Department  of  the  Court  came  the  Thandawzin  or 
"  heralds,"  who  were  at  the  same  time  charged  with  the 
performance  of  secretarial  business.  Their  chief  duty 
consisted  in  attendance  at  audiences  for  the  purpose  of 
noting  the  King's  orders  and  forwarding  them  to  the 
Hlutdaw  or  Great  Council  for  inscription  ;  but  they  also 
discharged  various  ceremonial  offices,  such  as  carrying 
forth  royal  letters  in  state  from  the  palace. 

After  these  heralds  came  the  Shnitunhmu  or  "  lamp- 
lighters" of  the  palace,  who  were  at  the  same  time 
responsible  for  performing  the  more  important  duties 
of  keeping  a  list  of  all  persons  sleeping  inside  the  palace 
and  of  intimating  to  those  concerned  when  it  might  be 
their  turn  to  have  the  privilege  of  remaining  out  all 
night  beyond  the  palace  enclosure.  If  any  one  whose 
name  was  not  on  these  lamplighters'  lists  happened  to 
be  found  within  the  stockade  and  the  main  gates  of  the 
palace  after  dark,  grave  suspicion  always  fell  upon  him 
or  her,  and  punishment  usually  followed.  To  obtain 
entrance  after  dark  was   difficult,  unless  the  individual 

1 60 


in  question  was  entitled  by  position  to  exercise  such  a 
privilege.  King  Mindon  retained  a  number  of  spies, 
called  Ataukdazv  or  "  royal  assistants,"  to  keep  him 
secretly  informed  of  the  illegal  acts  and  general  doings 
of  his  Ministers  and  provincial  Governors.  Finding 
these  spies  unreliable,  he  looked  about  for  others  in 
whom  he  could  place  more  trust,  and  came  to  the  con- 
clusion that  he  would  best  be  served  by  monks  who  had 
cast  off  their  yellow  robes  and  re-entered  the  world  of 
men.  Enrolling  one  thousand  men  of  this  class  i^Lu- 
byandaw,  "  the  great  returned  "),  he  thought  it  might  be 
a  good  thing  to  issue  medals  to  those  of  them  who  dis- 
tinguished themselves  by  meritorious  service.  These 
medals,  intended  to  be  worn  round  the  neck  like  a 
locket,  were  to  bear  the  effigy  of  a  Chinthd  or  "  lion  "  on 
one  side,  and  the  inscription  Vazamatika,  "  the  King's 
seal,"  on  the  other.  But  the  King  died  before  any  were 
issued.  What  may  probably  be  a  unique  specimen  of  this 
medal  I  had  the  good  fortune  to  pick  up  in  Mandalay 
bazaar,  in  1891,  for  the  price  of  one  rupee. 

The  lowest  grade  among  the  officials  of  the  Byedaik 
consisted  of  the  Teindeinyanhmu  or  "caretakers"  of 
the  palace  furniture,  draperies  and  other  appointments, 
whose  functions  were  menial  rather  than  administrative. 

Apart  from  the  Hlutdaw  and  the  Byedaik,  the  Great  and 
the  Privy  Councils  of  the  State,  were  the  officers  of  the 
Shwedaik,  the  "gold  house"  or  Treasury,  within  which 
were  also  contained  the  State  archives  and  records  of 
various  kinds,  such  as  the  genealogies  of  all  hereditary 
officials  and  the  lists  of  the  royal  artificers,  whose  offices 
were  likewise  hereditary,  the  head  of  each  family  being 
one  of  the  permanent  Treasury  officials.  These  latter 
comprised  the  Shwedaik  Wun  or  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer,  the  Shwedaik  S6  or  "  Governor  of  the 
Treasury,"  the  Shwedaik  Kyat  or  "  Superintendent," 
the  Shwedaik  Sayd  or  "  clerk  of  the  Treasury,"  and  the 
Shwedaik  Thawgaing  or  "  keeper  of  the  key  of  the 

When  King  Mindon  swept  away  the  wasteful  and 
oppressive  system  of  allowing  districts  to  be  squeezed 
by  the  "  eaters  of  townships,"  and  substituted  for  this 

161  M 


ancient  custom  the  levy  of  regular  taxes  and  the  pay- 
ment of  fixed  salaries  to  officials  of  all  descriptions,  the 
village  community  system  was  adopted  as  the  basis  of 
the  revenue  administration  of  the  Kingdom.  Teak 
timber,  earth-oil,  and  precious  stones  of  all  kinds  were 
included  in  the  royal  monopolies,  and  all  the  revenue 
from  these  rich  stores  was  supposed  to  go  direct  into  the 
privy  purse.  Under  this  reformed  system  the  principal 
item  of  the  State  revenue  was  the  Thdtham^dd^  or 
house  tax,  which  was  levied  in  the  form  of  a  house  tax, 
but  was  in  principle  somewhat  of  the  nature  of  an  indirect 
income  tax.  It  was  not  a  Latxd  Revenue  demand  in  the 
true  sense  of  this  term.  It  was  levied  on  all  classes 
throughout  the  whole  country,  with  the  exception  of  the 
inhabitants  of  the  royal  city  of  Mandalay,  who  appear 
to  have  been  exempt  from  direct  taxation  of  any  kind. 
The  largest  amount  of  revenue  that  ever  reached 
King  Thibaw's  treasury  in  any  one  year  was  about 
I  GO  to  105  lacs  of  rupees  (about  ;!^700,ooo)  ;  and  of 
this  total  between  25  and  35  lacs  (about  ;^  166,666  to 
-^233,333)  were  the  proceeds  of  customs,  monopolies, 
and  transit  dues.  Classified  as  to  their  remunerative- 
ness,  the  sources  of  royal  income  were  Thdthamddd, 
monopolies  and  imposts,  rent  of  royal  lands,  irrigation 
taxes,  and  tribute  from  the  Shan  States. 

In  the  assessment  and  collection  of  this  Thdthamddd 
or  house  tax  every  district  and  town,  except  the  capital, 
was  classified  according  to  its  situation,  wealth,  and 
prosperity  :  and  the  total  assessment  for  each  such  unit 
was  based  upon  this  classification,  so  as  to  range  from 
about  6  to  10  rupees  (9  to  15  shillings)  per  household. 
But  in  the  vast  majority  of  cases  the  maximum  rate  of 
10  rupees  was  fixed,  so  that  the  total  demand  falling  on 
a  village  of  50  houses  would  be  500  rupees   (^33^). 

^  Originally  the  term  Thdtham'edd  is  said  to  have  been  Thattamedd, 
meaning  revenue  levied  by  royal  authority  once  in  seven  years  (from 
Saiiamd,  "seven").  Subsequently  such  special  demand  was  made 
only  once  every  ten  years  {Daihatnd,  "  ten  ").  Ultimately  it  became 
an  annual  demand.  It  is  not  a  tithe  or  tenth  part,  as  might  easily  be 
imagmed  from  the  obvious  similarity  of  the  name  with  the  PaU  word 
for  ten. 



The  highest  assessment  was  levied  upon  villages  situated 
on  rich  stretches  of  fertile  alluvial  lands  lying  within 
easy  reach  of  the  rivers  forming  the  vast  silent  highways 
along  which  all  surplus  produce  was  borne  to  market  ; 
for  the  Irrawaddy  river  and  its  tributaries,  many  of 
which  are  themselves  worthy  of  being  ranked  as  large 
rivers,  formed  the  main  arteries  of  trade  and  com- 

The  average  quality  of  the  soil  and  the  proximity  or 
remoteness  of  given  tracts  from  river  communication 
were  the  chief  considerations  which  mainly  influenced 
the  authorities  in  Mandalay  in  determining  the  incidence 
of  taxation  in  a  general  way.  But  the  assessment  might 
vary  from  year  to  year,  and  it  never  became  of  the 
nature  of  any  Settlement  extending  at  fixed  rates  over 
lengthy  periods.  The  basis  for  such  a  Settlement  as 
was  introduced  under  Akbar  by  Todar  Mull  in  India 
had  been  laid  by  King  Bodaw  Payd  in  1783  a.d.  (1145 
Burmese  era),  when  the  Shwedaik  or  Burmese  Dooms- 
day Book  was  compiled,  containing  a  complete  record 
of  the  population  and  resources  of  the  empire.  But  the 
genius  of  the  Burmese  rulers  did  not  run  on  similar 
lines  to  that  of  the  great  Mohammedan  conquerors  of 

A  bad  harvest  through  insufficient  rainfall  during  the 
south-west  monsoon  in  the  summer  months,  or  the 
destruction  of  a  village  by  fire,  or  any  other  of  the 
numerous  causes  which  might  affect  the  ability  of  the 
villages  to  satisfy  the  demand  of  the  tax  levied,  was 
duly  taken  into  account  in  assessing  this  Thdthmn^dd, 
In  order  to  guide  the  revenue  officials  at  Mandalay  in 
such  matters,  fortnightly  reports  were  submitted  by  the 
district  officials  regarding  any  local  circumstances  likely 
to  affect  the  assessment. 

This  revenue  demand  was  collected  either  by  the 
local  officers  or  else  by  specially  appointed  tax  collectors 
called  Thugyi  or  "  headmen,"  the  procedure  varying 
sometimes  from  year  to  year,  and  in  other  cases  accord- 
ing to  the  locality.  Instructions  under  the  royal 
authority  were  issued  from  the  Hlutdaw  to  the  officials 
concerned,  the  incidence  of  taxation  per  house  being  laid 


down  for  each  local  unit  of  assessment,  and  the  exemp- 
tions to  be  granted  being  specified  in  detail. 

Provided  thus  with  the  tax  lists,  the  collector  levied 
the  prescribed  contributions  during  the  months  of  April 
and  May,  after  the  winter  crops  had  been  harvested  and 
when  inland  communication  from  village  to  village  was 
easiest.  On  arrival  at  each  town  or  village  he 
enumerated  the  houses.  Multiplying  this  number  by 
the  rate  fixed  per  house,  he  easily  arrived  at  the  total 
demand  to  be  satisfied.  On  receipt  of  this  revenue 
assessment  the  Ywdlugyi  or  "village  elders"  met  to- 
gether in  conclave,  usually  sitting  coram  Publico  on  a 
wooden  dais  erected  under  the  shade  of  some  large  and 
spreading  tree  in  the  middle  of  the  village  ;  and  here 
they  arranged  among  themselves  the  amount  to  be  con- 
tributed by  each  individual  householder  towards  the 
entire  satisfaction  of  the  demands  of  the  royal  Treasury. 
This  local  readjustment  of  the  incidence  of  taxation  by 
the  elders  of  the  people  rendered  possible  the  distri- 
bution of  the  burden  in  a  fairly  equitable  manner  among 
those  best  able  to  bear  it.  Destitute  persons  and  all 
such  as  were  incapacitated  from  work  through  age,  sick- 
ness, or  accident  were  exempted  from  paying  any  share, 
whilst  the  heads  of  the  village  community  sought  to 
apportion  the  burden  equitably  among  those  most  able 
to  contribute  towards  the  payment  of  the  full  sum 

This  was,  of  course,  no  difficult  matter  in  villages 
where  each  man  and  woman  had  a  most  intimate 
acquaintance  with  the  affairs  of  their  fellow  villagers. 
Objections  would  naturally  sometimes  be  made  to  this 
informal  sub-assessment ;  and,  when  these  differences  of 
opinion  could  not  be  amicably  settled,  the  tax  collector 
frequently  acted  as  arbitrator  to  settle  the  disputes. 
Sometimes  village  assessors,  called  Thamddi,  were 
appointed  by  the  elders,  in  which  case  they  were 
solemnly  made  to  swear  at  the  village  pagoda  that  they 
would  be  just  in  determining  the  sum  payable  by  each 
householder.  Thus,  so  far  as  the  Treasury  was  con- 
cerned, the  Thdthamddd  was  assessed  and  levied  as  a 
house  tax  fixed  mainly  according  to  the  remunerative- 



ness  of  the  land  or  of  trade ;  while  in  being  raised  by 
the  local  headmen  it  was  collected  practically  in  the 
form  of  an  income  tax. 

This  redistribution  of  the  tax  having  been  made  by 
the  village  elders,  the  total  revenue  demand  from  the 
village  was  usually  paid  in  cash  at  once,  though  some- 
times a  concession  was  given  permitting  payment  in  two 
or  more  instalments.  The  money  thus  collected  was 
remitted  to  Mandalay  and  paid  into  the  Treasury,  where 
the  taxation  lists  and  the  accounts  were  checked  and 
audited.  Peculation  was,  however,  rife.  The  lists  of 
houses  on  which  the  assessments  were  based  were 
falsified  to  such  an  extent  that  about  a  fifth  of  the 
average  annual  revenue  from  this  source  went  into  the 
pockets  of  officials  instead  of  into  the  royal  Treasury. 
The  prevalence  of  dacoity  during  Thibaw's  reign  also 
affected  agricultural  interests  to  such  an  extent  that  in 
some  localities  the  revenue  from  this  source  had 
dwindled  away  to  a  mere  fraction  of  what  it  had 
formerly  been. 

This  principle,  well  suited  to  the  Burmese  character 
and  a  natural  evolution  of  their  former  political  system, 
was  wisely  retained  in  force  after  the  annexation  of 
Upper  Burma  in  1886,  though  the  village  community 
system  upon  which  Thdtham^dd  was  based  had  been 
abandoned  in  Lower  Burma,  after  the  annexation  of 
1852,  in  favour  of  a  capitation  tax  and  of  a  land  tenure 
more  consistent  with  Western  ideas.  But  even  Govern- 
ments profit  by  experience.  To  have  endeavoured  to 
overthrow  the  Thdthamddd  in  favour  of  the  capitation 
tax  and  the  land  tax  levied  in  Lower  Burma  would  have 
been  raising  up  an  even  stronger  opposition  to  the 
imposition  of  British  rule  than  that  which  cost,  during 
1886  to  1890,  more  than  enough  of  good  English  blood, 
of  brave  Indian  troops,  and  of  poor  depreciated  rupees. 

The  land-tenure  system  was  not  very  precise  or  clear. 
The  cultivated  tracts  were  either  Crown  lands,  or  else 
lands  held  under  various  tenures  of  a  feudal  nature,  or 
private  and  hereditary  lands.  There  were  no  great 
landowners  save  the  King.  The  Crown  lands  com- 
prised  the    Ledaw   or    "royal    fields,"  the  Ayddaw  or 



"government  property,"  including  islands,  alluvial  form- 
ations, and  lands  subject  to  periodical  change  through 
riverine  action,  and  the  Lamaijigmyd  or  tracts  cultivated 
by  the  royal  predial  slaves  {Lamaing),  large  colonies  of 
whom  were  located  in  the  irrigated  tracts  near  the 
Nanda  and  Aungbinle  lakes  or  water  reservoirs  lying 
to  the  north-east  and  south  of  Mandalay.  Except  as 
regards  the  tracts  cultivated  by  the  predial  slaves,  these 
Crown  lands  were  let  out  to  tenants  at  will,  who  had  to 
pay  a  fixed  proportion  of  the  gross  produce,  the  actual 
amount  payable  depending  on  the  outturn  harvested. 
The  rent  was  fixed  by  custom  and  was  ordinarily  one- 
fourth  of  the  gross  produce.  The  tenant  was  liable  to 
eviction  at  any  moment.  In  some  parts  of  the  country 
evictions  were  common,  while  in  other  parts  they  were  so 
rare  that  the  tenants  had  practically  a  fixity  of  tenure. 

The  tenures  of  feudal  nature  were  those  obtaining 
with  regard  to  all  Chdmyd  or  land  bestowed  by  the 
King.  It  became  the  property  of  the  recipient,  but  was 
heritable  only  if  it  were  so  set  forth  in  the  royal  order. 
Such  land  was  held  either  on  condition  of  rendering 
public  service  or  as  an  appanage  to,  or  emolument 
of,  a  public  office  held  by  persons  who  actually  or 
nominally  rendered,  or  were  liable  to  render,  service 
to  the  King.  Of  tenures  thus  assigned  for  actual  or 
nominal  service  there  were  a  great  variety  and  a  sur- 
prising number ;  but  only  a  few  of  the  principal  varieties 
need  be  noted  as  of  interest.  Some  lands  were  assigned 
for  life,  or  for  several  lives,  or  for  a  given  period  to 
members  of  the  royal  family  {Minmy^) ;  while  the  produce 
of  other  lands  (IVtmsd)  was  enjoyed  by  Governors  of 
rural  districts  (IVun),  or  it  was  "eaten"  by  revenue 
collectors  {Tkugyisd),  or  by  the  soldiers  of  the  King's 
cavalry  (Sisd),  or  by  foot  soldiers,  or  by  royal  pages, 
boatmen,  litter  bearers,  carriers  of  the  betel  box,  and 
others  employed  in  the  royal  service  i^Ahtmlddnsd). 
In  point  of  fact,  all  the  royal  grants  were  really  nothing 
more  than  assignments,  in  actual  practice  revocable  at 
will ;  for  the  sovereign  could,  and  not  infrequently  did, 
arbitrarily  degrade  subjects  and  escheat  their  possessions. 

The  Thugyisdmy^,  or  land   bestowed  by  the  King  on 



a  revenue  collector  as  an  appanage  of  his  office,  may  be 
considered  more  closely  as  a  typical  instance  of  the  sort 
of  feudal  tenure  obtaining  in  Upper  Burma.  If  such 
land  were  mortgaged  on  account  of  having  to  provide 
money  for  the  King,  the  Thugyis  successor  in  office  was 
bound  to  redeem  it.  But  if  mortgaged  for  the  Thugyis 
own  private  debts,  then  his  children  were  bound  to 
redeem  it  either  for  one  of  themselves,  if  one  of  them 
should  succeed  his  father  in  office,  or  else  for  the  new 
incumbent.  The  sale  of  such  land  was  illegal,  and 
consequently  void.  These  revenue  collectors  were 
usually  appointed  direct  by  the  King,  by  whom  alone 
they  could  be  dismissed  after  they  had  once  taken  the 
oath  of  allegiance.  They  were  included  as  a  class 
among  the  80,000  Amdt  or  petty  notables  of  the 
empire.  Apart  from  the  royal  house  of  Alaung  Payd 
there  was  no  aristocracy  whatever  in  the  country. 
Nor  was  there  any  leading  class.  Owing  to  the 
monastic  schools,  all  were  of  about  the  same  low  level  of 
education ;  owing  to  the  fear  of  oppression,  there  were 
no  rich  men  ;  and  owing  to  the  sparseness  of  the 
population,  there  were  no  poor.  Any  man  might  rise  to 
the  highest  offices  under  the  Crown. 

Private  and  hereditary  lands  were  neither  subject  to 
any  incidents  of  service  nor  to  the  payment  of  land  reve- 
nue. Waste  land  or  unreclaimed  forest  jungle  could  be 
cleared  without  asking  permission  {Damdugyd).  When 
thus  brought  under  cultivation,  it  became  the  private 
property  of  the  person  who  cleared  and  tilled  it ;  and 
it  could  descend  to  his  heirs  or  be  disposed  of  by  him 
or  them,  by  sale  or  otherwise.  These,  together  with 
lands  granted  under  the  written  orders  of  the  King, 
comprised  the  Bobdbaing  or  hereditary  lands  "  owned 
by  the  father  and  grandfather "  of  the  person  in 
possession.  Along  with  these  may  also  be  classed  the 
Wuttagdn  lands  assigned  to  the  maintenance  of  pagodas, 
monasteries,  and  other  religious  institutions.  For  tenants 
of  such  private  lands  there  was  neither  fixity  of  tenure 
nor  legal  limits  as  to  rent.  When  let  out  for  cultivation, 
the  produce  was  usually  divided  in  equal  shares  between 
the  owner  and  his  tenant.     When  private  land  was  sold, 



it  was  customary,  at  the  time  of  making  it  over  to  the 
purchaser,  to  walk  round  the  small  ridges  {Kazinyo) 
dividing  the  ricefields.  The  unit  of  measurement  of 
agricultural  land  was  the  Pe  of  1,200  square  cubits,  equal 
to  175  acres.  In  some  parts  it  was  roughly  computed  as 
the  area  covered  by  five  baskets  of  paddy  sown  broad- 

^From  what  has  been  said  above  it  will  be  seen  that 
(he  village  was  practically  the  unit  for  revenue  purposes  ; 
andj'the  general  administration  was  also  based  on  the 
"vITTage  system.  Each  village  had  a  Thugyi  or  "  head- 
man "  elected  by  its  inhabitants,  who  had  specific  duties 
to  perform  and  certain  responsibilities  thrust  upon  him, 
and  who  was  invested  with  substantial  powers  to  enable 
him  to  discharge  his  functions  efficiently,  and  to  maintain 
his  authority.  He  could  call  upon  the  villagers  to  assist 
him,  and  could,  at  his  own  instance,  inflict  punishment 
for  disobedience  to  his  lawful  requisitions.  He  was  fre- 
quently not  only  the  tax  collector,  but  also  the  village 
magistrate ;  and  sometimes,  in  addition  thereto,  he  per- 
formed the  functions  of  a  judge.  But  the  village  was, 
as  a  whole,  held  responsible  for  the  payment  of  the 
annual  revenue  demand,  for  its  own  general  good  order, 
and  for  its  own  defence  against  dacoits  or  gang-robbers. 
The  whole  village  was  held  liable  to  fine  if  stolen 
catde  or  other  property  were  traced  to  its  limits,  if  the 
perpetrators  of  serious  crime  committed  within  its  bor- 
ders remained  undetected,  or  if  it  could  offer  no  reasonable 
jexcuse  for  failing  to  resist  an  attack  by  dacoits. 

The  villages  were  surrounded  by  stockades  consisting 
of  chevaux-de-frise  of  bamboos  with  sharp  ends  pointing 
outwards,  or  formed  of  posts  and  thorny  branches  of  the 
zibin  [Zizyphus  jujtiba)  and  other  prickly  shrubs  or 
small  trees  growing  even  in  the  dryest  parts ;  and  exit 
therefrom  could  only  be  made  at  gates  facing  the  cardinal 
points.  In  the  smaller  hamlets  there  were  usually  only 
two  gates,  but  larger  villages  had  four.  In  every  case 
each  gate  was  guarded  by  a  Kin  or  "  watch-house,"  in 
which  two  young  men  were  always  supposed  to  remain 
at  night  keeping  watch  and  ward.  They  were  nick- 
named Ki7ikwd  or  "  watch-dogs,"  as  it  was  their  duty  to 



hail  all  passers  by,  like  a  dog  barking  at  any  one  passing 
his  kennel. 

Under  such  a  system,  which  united  the  village  com- 
munity both  by  common  interest  and  local  feeling,  it  was 
of  course  necessary  to  maintain  a  careful  watch  over 
the  movements  of  strangers  within  the  gate.  Whoever 
entertained  any  stranger  was  bound  to  report  to  the  Thu- 
gyi  the  arrival  and  departure  of  the  guest.  No  one 
could  squat  in  the  village  lands,  or  settle  in  the  village, 
without  the  permission  of  the  headman ;  and  he  could 
petition  the  Wun  or  Myosd  in  charge  of  the  rural  district  to 
order  the  removal  of  persons  suspected  to  be  of  criminal 
tendencies.  The  village  lands  were  demarcated,  and  in 
autumn,  at  the  commencement  of  the  dry  season,  rough 
tracks  were  cleared  by  every  village  up  to  the  wooden 
posts  fixed  where  the  communal  lands  marched  with 
those  of  the  adjoining  villages.  This  was  a  simple  and 
tolerably  effective  means  of  communication,  which  cost 
nothing  to  the  administration.  When  officials  travelled, 
they  were  met  at  the  village  boundaries,  and  passed  thus 
from  village  to  village  during  the  whole  course  of  their 

The  central  authority  controlling  the  Burmese  system 
of  village  communities  was  weakened  to  a  considerable 
extent  during  King  Mindon's  reign  by  innovations  intro- 
duced by  him  (see  p.  1 56).  And  later  on,  during  the  seven 
years  Thibaw  occupied  the  throne  (i 878-1 885),  the 
rural  Governors  became  less  and  less  easy  to  control.  It 
was  only  in  the  broad  plains  of  the  Irrawaddy  and  its 
main  tributaries  that  orders  could  be  enforced.  In  the 
hills  to  the  north  and  north-east,  which  were  inhabited  by 
wild  Kachin  tribes,  these  nomads  were  very  much  left  to 
themselves.  They  had  a  reputation  for  blood-thirstiness, 
from  the  fearlessness  characteristic  of  most  mountaineers. 
The  plains  fringing  the  outskirts  of  most  of  the  Kachin 
country,  near  where  the  Meza  from  the  west  and  the 
Shweli  from  the  east  join  the  Irrawaddy  river  about 
200  miles  north  of  Mandalay,  formed  the  Siberia  of 
Upper  Burma.  Subsequently  Mogaung,  a  wilder  and 
more  nearly  inaccessible  place  much  further  to  the  north, 
became  the  penal   settlement.     These  were  all   highly 



malarious  and  unhealthy  localities,  banishment  to  which 
was  popularly  considered  as  equivalent  to  a  sentence  of 
death.  In  the  north-west  the  hill  tracts  were  peopled 
by  the  equally  wild  Chins,  who  were  likewise  a  terror 
to  the  Burmese.  All  these  hill  tribes  throughout  the 
northern  portions  of  the  country  had  for  generations 
been  accustomed  to  find  profit  and  pastime  in  raiding 
villages  on  the  plains,  in  pillaging  travellers,  and  in  levy- 
ing blackmail  from  those  within  reach  of  their  attacks. 

Even  in  the  more  settled  districts  of  the  plains  to 
which  the  central  authority  extended  in  its  fullest  sense, 
whole  districts  were  overrun  by  bands  of  dacoits  or 
gang-robbers,  some  of  which  were  actually  in  league 
with  and  under  the  protection  of  high  officials  at  the 
Court.  The  notorious  Taingda  Mingyi,  one  of  the 
blackest  of  scoundrels,  is  known  to  have  aggrandised  his 
income  by  sharing  the  spoils  with  the  robber  bands,  and 
to  have  protected  them  by  giving  timely  information  of 
any  expedition  intended  to  be  sent  against  them.  In 
1885  he  instigated  the  massacre  of  the  leaders  of  the 
bands  who  were  then  in  captivity  in  Mandalay,  in  order 
to  obtain  the  security  which  comes  of  dead  men  telling  no 
tales.  These  dacoit  bands  often  included  hundreds  of 
men,  and  sometimes  assumed  the  proportions  of  small 

Under  the  law  of  British  India  the  term  "dacoity  "  is 
defined  as  gang-robbery  by  five  men  or  more,  but  the 
Burmese  term  Damyd  simply  means  "  many  swords." 
The  dacoits  of  Upper  Burma  were  bandits  or  free- 
booters, who  harassed  more  or  less  definite  tracts  of 
country,  like  the  brigands  of  Greece  and  Italy.  Dacoity 
was,  in  reality,  a  more  or  less  organized  guerilla  system  of 
attack  and  defence,  which  had  been  customary  from  time 
immemorial  and  had  its  origin  in  the  village  community 
system  of  administration.  In  the  absence  of  the  strong 
hand  of  a  central  government,  it  was  the  natural  method 
by  which  force  could  be  repelled  by  force,  and  public 
or  private  wrongs  righted.  The  dacoit  bands  were 
recruited  from  among  the  young  men  of  the  vicinity,  and 
no  loss  of  social  caste  was  entailed  thereby.  Each  Bo  or 
leader  of  a   band  was  a  sort  of  Robin    Hood,  at  once 



feared  and  looked  up  to  by  the  villages  within  his  reach. 
Subsidized  by  them,  he  became  their  protector  and 
defender  against  the  raids  and  exactions  of  other  Bo. 

As  the  monarchy  was  not  strictly  hereditary,  but  here- 
ditary only  in  the  sense  of  being  confined  to  the  members 
of  the  family  of  Alaung  Paya,  which  had  been  in  posses- 
sion of  the  throne  for  the  few  generations  since  1755, 
each  scion  of  the  royal  line  considered  himself  justified 
in  raising  the  banner  of  insurrection  whenever  he  thought 
he  had  a  fair  chance  of  success.  Generally  he  could  plead, 
if  excuse  were  required,  that  the  successful  rival  on  the 
throne  had  endeavoured  to  secure  himself  by  putting  all 
his  near  male  relatives  to  death.  No  King  of  Burma  had 
ever  been  able  to  suppress  insurrections  of  this  sort. 
Some  sovereigns  of  unusual  energy  obtained  temporary 
tranquillity  by  executing  or  imprisoning  all  formidable 
rivals  and  by  employing  leaders  who  were  able  to  break  up 
the  larger  bands  of  dacoits ;  but  these  peaceful  periods 
were  never  of  long  duration,  because  the  efforts  to 
organize  a  regular  army  and  an  efficient  police  were 
always  neutralized  by  the  incapacity  and  procrastination 
of  the  officials,  and  by  the  inherent  dislike  of  all  kinds  of 
discipline  which  is  ingrained  in  the  Burmese  character. 

The  ease  with  which  any  Prince  of  the  house  of 
Alaung  Payd  was  able  to  raise  a  following  explained  not 
only  the  jealousy  with  which  the  reigning  monarch  kept 
his  near  relatives  shut  up  within  the  palace  enclosure, 
but  also  the  closely  secluded  position  which  he  himself 
maintained.  It  was  seldom  that  a  royal  progress  could 
be  undertaken  to  any  distance,  as  there  was  always  the 
fear  either  of  an  attack  outside  of  the  palace,  or  of  find- 
ing the  palace  gate  closed  against  him  on  his  return.  On 
one  of  the  rare  occasions  on  which  King  Mindon  went 
forth  to  enjoy  an  outing  in  a  royal  garden  in  the  vicinity 
of  Mandalay  he  was  attacked  by  his  own  son,  the 
Myingun  Prince,  and  barely  escaped  with  his  life  by  the 
back  door  of  the  summer-house  in  which  he  was  sleep- 
ing ;  while  the  King's  brother,  the  Mindat  Prince,  had  to 
pay  with  his  life  the  penalty  of  having  been  appointed 
Einshd  Min  or  heir  apparent,  and  thereby  nominated 
formally  as  his  brother's  successor  on  the  throne. 



The  appointment  of  an  heir  apparent  and  successor 
was  one  of  the  royal  prerogatives.  This  want  of  strict 
hereditary  succession  to  the  throne  was  the  main  cause 
of  much  bloodshed,  intrigue,  and  disorganization.  The 
Myingun  Prince's  insurrection  occurred  in  1866.  He 
escaped  into  British  territory,  and  was  for  many  years 
maintained  as  a  prisoner  at  Benares,  in  Bengal,  but 
ultimately  escaped  and  lived  under  French  protection 
at  Pondicherry.  King  Mindon  seldom  left  his  capital 
after  1866,  and  King  Thibaw  was  probably  never  once 
outside  of  the  palace  enclosure  during  the  whole  of  the 
seven  years  of  his  reign. 

In  administrative  capacity  King  Thibaw  proved  a 
very  degenerate  son  of  Mindon.  In  fact,  he  was  below 
rather  than  above  the  average  of  Burmese  sovereigns. 
Placed  on  the  throne,  while  yet  a  boy,  by  means  of  a 
palace  intrigue  cleverly  carried  through  by  his  prospective 
mother-in-law,  he  was  weak  and  excitable,  his  conduct 
exhibiting  the  extremes  of  temerity  and  timidity.  Many 
stories  have  been  told  of  his  fearful  drunkenness  and 
personal  vices  ;  but  they  were  partly  false,  and  in  any 
case  were  gross  exaggerations.  Under  the  control  of 
Queen  Supaydlat,  and  influenced  strongly  by  ignorant 
and  unworthy  favourites  among  his  Ministers,  he  over- 
threw Mindon's  policy  of  keeping  on  good  terms  with 
the  British,  and  he  suffered  laxity  and  corruption  to 
canker  the  administration  of  the  State  :  and  for  these 
things  he  was  in  due  time  heavily  punished  by  dethrone- 
ment, exile,  and  the  downfall  of  the  ancient  kingdom  of 

During  the  closing  years  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava  the 
authority  of  the  central  Government  had  become  so  dis- 
organized that  anarchy  prevailed  throughout  the  country, 
and  officials  of  all  classes  did  very  much  what  seemed 
good  in  their  own  eyes.  So  long  as  the  Thdthaniedd 
revenue  was  regularly  remitted  to  the  due  amount,  the 
other  details  of  administration  were  not  very  closely 
watched.  There  was  a  stand  of  between  10,000  and 
15,000  serviceable  fire-arms  in  the  royal  arsenal,  and  an 
army  of  about  13,000  infantry,  2,000  cavalry,  and  a  few 
artillery  was  maintained  in  and  around  the  capital,  but 



these  troops  were  next  to  useless.  There  was  no  real 
military  organization.  The  Ministers  of  State,  Privy 
Councillors,  and  Assistant  Ministers  were  all  generals  of 
sorts  who  might  be  ordered  to  take  the  field  in  charge  of 
an  army  ;  but  the  only  actual  military  ranks  were  the  Bo, 
or  captain,  and  the  Sitke,  or  lieutenant,  who  performed 
duties  partly  of  a  military  and  partly  of  a  police  nature. 
The  rabble  forming  the  army  was  recruited  as  circum- 
stances required,  the  soldiers  being  paid  on  a  sliding  scale 
according  to  the  length  of  service  agreed  on.  A  military 
rank  abolished  by  King  Mindon  included  the  Thw^- 
thaukgyi  or  **  great  blood  drinkers,"  who  were  captains  ot 
fifty,  and  to  each  of  whom  seven  families  were  assigned, 
together  with  lands  for  his  maintenance. 

The  whole  country  was  terrorized  by  the  various 
dacoit  Bo ;  all  social  and  political  bonds  became  loosened  ; 
villages  and  towns  were  burned  ;  and,  not  infrequently, 
even  the  district  Governors  were  murdered  by  dacoit 
bands.  Bhamo,  the  em.porlum  of  trade  with  China  in 
the  north-east,  was  burnt  by  Chinese  freebooters,  and  the 
Kachin  tribes  were  in  insurrection  ;  while  in  the  feudatory 
Shan  States,  extending  from  the  range  of  hills  near 
Mandalay  eastwards  to  Yunnan,  a  league  had  been 
formed  to  throw  off  the  Burmese  yoke,  and  many  of  the 
Sawbwa  or  ruling  Princes  were  in  open  rebellion.  So 
bad  did  affairs  ultimately  become  that  King  Thibaw 
actually  ruled  over  little  more  than  the  royal  city  of 
Mandalay  and  its  immediate  vicinity,  and  the  tracts  com- 
manded by  the  main  channels  of  communication ;  and 
even  within  this  limited  area  there  was  always  a  vast 
amount  of  maladministration.  The  case  of  the  sack  of 
Bhamo,  on  8th  December,  1884,  was  a  typical  instance 
of  the  way  affairs  were  conducted  in  outlying  parts  of  the 
kingdom.  When  the  Kachin  hill  tribes  revolted  and 
attacked  Bhamo,  the  Governor  employed  a  number  of 
Chinese  to  help  in  defending  the  town,  and  promised 
them  a  certain  sum  for  their  services.  The  Governor 
failing  to  keep  his  promise,  these  Chinese  free-lances 
collected  at  a  place  called  Matin  and  swooped  down  on 
Bhamo,  first  of  all  looting  it,  and  then  setting  fire  to  it. 
The  Chinese  authorities  had  no  hand  in  the  matter.     It 



was  simply  an  act  of  Yannanese  marauders,  out  of 
personal  revenge  for  being  defrauded  of  the  price  agreed 
on  for  their  defence  of  the  town  against  Burmese  subjects 
in  revolt. 

The  Burmese  Shan  States  extended  over  enormous 
tracts  of  country  beyond  the  Salween  and  Mekong  rivers 
till  they  marched  with  the  Chinese  province  of  Yunnan 
on  the  north-east,  and  with  the  Siamese  Shan  States  on 
the  east.  They  were  mutually  independent  States,  each 
ruled  by  its  own  Prince  or  Chief,  whose  title  might  be 
either  Sdwbwa,  Myosd,  or  Ngw^gunhmu,  according  to 
the  size  of  his  State,  and  his  power  and  influence.  There 
were  some  sixty  to  seventy  of  these  chieftains,  some  of 
whom  were  powerful  and  practically  independent  Princes, 
forming  the  remnants  of  the  great  Shan  nation  which 
centuries  ago  held  the  whole  of  Further  India.  The 
name  Shayi  is  a  Chinese  word  meaning  "  mountain." 
Some  fifteen  of  the  smallest  Shan  States  formed  the 
Mydat,  or  "  fallow  tracts,"  bordering  on  the  plains  of 
Burma,  which,  though  of  great  fertility,  had  become 
almost  depopulated,  owing  to  constant  raiding  and  petty 
warfare.  But  all  the  different  States  had  their  constant 
feuds  among  themselves  as  well  as  with  the  Burmese  on 
the  plains ;  and  during  the  last  years  of  Burmese  rule 
they  were  torn  and  decimated  by  internecine  struggles. 
The  Burmese  Government  asserted  its  supremacy  over 
the  whole  of  these  Shan  States,  and  the  King  of  Burma 
appointed  to  each  its  chief.  The  States  adjacent  to  the 
Irrawaddy  valley  were  controlled  from  Mandalay,  but  in 
those  lying  far  from  the  capital  two  Sitke  or  Military 
Prefects,  supported  by  garrisons  of  Burmese  troops,  were 
established  at  Mond  and  Mobye  for  controlling  the 
general  administration  of  the  States.  Although  profess- 
ing to  decide  disputes  between  the  mutually  independent 
States,  these  Sitke  left  to  the  chiefs  the  management  of 
their  domestic  affairs.  Since  the  time  of  King  Mindon,  if 
not  earlier,  the  western  Shan  States  had  regularly  remitted 
to  Mandalay  tributes  assessed,  like  the  ThdthamMd,  on 
the  number  of  households ;  but  the  suzerainty  over  the 
eastern  States  beyond  the  Salween  and  the  Mekong 
was  of  a  shadowy  nature,  and  the  tribute  exacted  was 



rather  of  a  nominal  and  purely  formal  kind  than  of  any 
really  substantial  value. 

The  administration  of  the  Shan  States,  as  of  other 
parts  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava,  fell  into  great  disorder 
when  Thibaw  succeeded  King  Mindon.  The  tribute 
payable  by  these  amounted  nominally  to  about  ^30,000 
a  year,  only  a  small  portion  of  which  was  latterly  paid. 
But  about  ;^5o,ooo  were  collected  by  means  of  imposts 
and  restrictions  on  the  importation  and  sale  of  Letpet  or 
"pickled  tea,"  which  formed  the  most  valuable  product 
brought  down  from  the  hills. 

In  1884,  six  of  the  Sawbwa  became  embroiled  with 
the  Burmese  Government,  and  had  to  seek  refuge  in  the 
Kengtung  State  east  of  the  Salween,  whose  powerful 
Chief,  remote  from  Mandalay,  enjoyed  a  large  measure 
of  independence,  and  was  for  personal  reasons  thoroughly 
disaffected  towards  the  Court  of  Ava.  In  this  asylum 
the  exiled  Sawbwa  entered  into  a  plot  either  to  over- 
throw King  Thibaw  or  to  establish  an  independent 
sovereignty  in  the  Shan  States.  The  Prince  selected  to 
be  their  leader  was  the  Limbin  Prince,  a  son  of  the  heir 
apparent  who  was  killed  in  1866,  when  the  Myingun 
Prince  attempted  to  kill  both  his  father  (Mindon)  and  his 
uncle  (Mindat)  and  usurp  the  throne.  On  Thibaw's 
accession  the  Limbin  Prince  escaped  to  Lower  Burma, 
where  he  was  employed  as  a  Myo  Ok  or  magistrate  in 
charge  of  a  subdivision  of  a  district.  Removed  from 
this  appointment  for  incompetency,  and  for  abusing  his 
liberty  by  trying  to  organize  rebellion  in  Upper  Burma, 
he  was  living  under  nominal  surveillance  in  Moulmein 
when  he  received  the  invitation  from  the  exiled  Sawbwa, 
and  hurried  away  to  accept  it,  in  October,  1885,  just 
before  the  outbreak  of  the  third  Burmese  war.  The 
end  of  this  futile  insurrection  has,  however,  been  else- 
where told  (p.  134).  It  is  mentioned  again  here  merely 
to  illustrate  the  condition  of  anarchy  into  which  the 
kingdom  of  Ava  had  fallen  under  Thibaw's  rule. 


Chapter  VII 


UNDER  their  own  King  the  Burmese  were  not 
Htigious.  Differences  of  opinion  were  for  by  far 
the  most  part  settled  amicably  by  the  parties  themselves, 
or  else  by  one  or  more  arbitrators  {Aminydtd  Kun\ 
jointly  appointed,  or  by  official  arbitrators  {Ktcndaw) 
appointed  by  the  King,  who  formed  a  class  enjoying 
considerable  judicial  reputation.^  To  those  who  were 
dissatisfied  with  the  awards  of  such  arbitrators,  or  for 
cases  between  parties  not  both  resident  in  the  same 
place,  the  court  of  the  Myowun,  or  district  Governor, 
was  open ;  and  if  satisfaction  was  not  obtainable  there, 
suits  might  be  filed  in  one  of  the  five  civil  courts  in 
Mandalay.  The  ultimate  court  of  appeal  was  the 
Hlutdaw,  to  which  also  direct  application  might  be 
made  in  more  important  cases.  In  this  highest  court 
the  King  usually  appointed  the  heir  apparent  or  one 
or  two  of  the  senior  Princes  of  the  blood  royal  to  decide 
the  cases  in  consultation  with  the  four  Mingyi.  From 
the  decision  of  the  Hlutdaw  there  was  ordinarily  no 
appeal ;  but,  in  specially  important  cases  concerning 
hereditary,  territorial,  and  other  claims,  the  parties  to  the 
suit  were  sometimes  brought  before  the  royal  presence, 
after  having  petitioned  through  the  Hlutdaw  for  such 
privilege,  when  the  case  was  either  re-heard  or  the  Min- 
gyi were  invited  to  explain  the  reasons  of  their  decision 
before  the  latter  was  either  confirmed  or  reversed  by  the 
final  judgment  of  the  King. 

^  Among  the  alterations  made  in  the  judicial  administration  during 
King  Thibaw's  time  the  practice  of  appointing  Kun  to  try  cases  was 
abolished,  and  civil  courts  were  constituted  of  different  grades  as  to 
powers,  jurisdiction,  value  of  suits,  appeals,  etc. 


THE    LAWS    OF    MANU 

In  the  Dammathdt,  or  Laws  of  Manu,  an  ancient  civil 
and  criminal  code  existed,  which  was  followed  to  a  cer- 
tain extent ;  but,  as  there  was  no  authoritative  code  of 
procedure,  the  arbitrators  and  judges  acted  very  much 
on  lines  of  their  own.  They  administered  justice  rather 
by  equity,  according  to  their  own  lights  and  ideas,  than 
by  law  :  and  this  naturally  often  led  to  the  civil  suits 
being  settled  by  a  compromise.  Nor  was  impartiality 
one  of  the  ruling  characteristics  with  which  Burmese 
judges  were  usually  credited.  Oaths  were  not  adminis- 
tered on  ordinary  occasions,  because  an  oath  was  re- 
garded with  a  deep-rooted,  semi-religious  dread  as  a 
kind  of  solemn  ordeal ;  hence  they  were  only  resorted  to 
when  one  of  the  parties  to  the  suit  agreed  to  be  bound 
by  the  effect  of  his  adversary's  statement  made  on  oath. 

When  the  ordeal  by  oath  was  decided  on,  it  was,  like 
most  solemn  ceremonies  in  Burma,  made  the  occasion  of 
a  festival.  The  litigants  and  their  friends,  all  dressed  in 
the  gayest  of  garments  and  accompanied  by  a  band  of 
music,  proceeded  to  a  sacred  edifice,  where  the  statement 
upon  oath  was  made  in  front  of  an  image  of  Gaudama. 
Four  forms  of  ordeal  might  be  resorted  to  with  regard 
to  lawsuits.  The  other  three  comprised  the  ordeal  by 
water,  the  ordeal  by  molten  lead,  and  that  by  candle. 

In  the  first  of  these  the  plaintiff  and  the  defendant 
went  into  deep  water :  their  heads  were  pushed  under 
water  with  poles,  and  right  lay  with  him  who  could 
remain  longest  under  water.  As  this  ordeal  could  be 
performed  by  deputy,  it  seems  to  have  been  one  of  the 
most  unsatisfactory  description,  which  could  only  be  re- 
sorted to  by  a  childishly  superstitious  race  such  as  the 
Burmese  undoubtedly  are.  The  ordeal  by  molten  lead 
consisted  in  plunging  the  forefinger  of  each  party  into 
molten  lead  after  the  finger  had  been  so  tied  round  with 
feathers  that  only  the  tip  remained  exposed.  If  one 
party  came  out  of  the  ordeal  with  less  injury  to  his  finger 
than  was  sustained  by  his  opponent,  he  won  the  suit : 
otherwise  the  inflamed  and  damaged  fingers  were  pricked, 
and  the  glorious  uncertainty  of  the  law  decided  in  favour 
of  him  from  whose  badly  burned  finger-tip  the  less 
amount  of  serum  flowed.     The  ordeal  by  candle  took 

177  N 


place,  like  the  ordeal  by  oath,  in  a  sacred  edifice  and  in 
front' of  an  image  of  the  Buddha.  Two  candles,  equal 
in  every  respect,  were  lighted  after  the  usual  formula  of 
pious  invocation  had  been  repeated,  and  the  suit  was 
lost  by  that  party  whose  candle  first  burned  out  and 
becfime  extinguished. 

^^he   Myoimin,  or  Governors   of  districts,  practically 
exercised  full  civil  and  criminal  jurisdiction  in  all  ordinary 
suits.     As  there  was  no  authoritative  penal  code  through- 
out the  land,  punishments  were  awarded  according  to  the 
discretion  of  the  judge ;  but  his  zeal,  or  whatever  other 
more  appropriate  name  may  be  given  to  the  character- 
istic of  his  mind  at  the  moment,  often  outran  his  dis- 
cretion.    The  quality  of  mercy  might  or  might  not  be 
strained,  yet   appeals  were  extremely  rare  in  criminal 
cases.     The  real  explanation  of  this  is,  however,  that,  if 
any  successful  appeal  were  made,  the  village  to  which  the 
appellant  belonged  could  be  harassed  and  annoyed  in  so 
many  ways  which  were  open  to  no  appeal  that  finally 
the  mischief-maker  would  be  turned  neck  and  crop  out 
of  the  village  in  order  to  promote  peace  and  welfare 
once  more.     It  was  recognized  that  there  was  no  use  in 
fighting  when  one  had  only  the  very  thin  end  of  the  stick. 
Monetary  fines  were  usually  inflicted,  though  cruel  pun- 
ishments were  often  adopted  when  the  frequency  of  crime 
began    to   be   specially    noticeable.     Whenever   dacoity 
became  so  prevalent  as  to  call  for  remonstrances  from 
Mandalay,    prisoners   caught    red-handed   were   usually 
crucified  to  serve  as  a  terror-inspiring  example.     When 
undue   or    habitual    severity   on   the   part    of    a   rural 
Governor  was  brought  to  the  notice  of  higher  authority 
at  the  capital,  the  ready  explanation  was  given  that  the 
zeal  of  the  Myowun  had   outrun  his  discretion,  or,  as 
the  Burmese  equivalent  puts  it,  "  his  hand  had  reached 
further  than  he  intended."    Even  at  the  capital,  inhuman 
punishments  were  common  for  trivial  offences.     Thus, 
disobedience  to  a  royal  order  might  entail  the  slitting 
of  the  mouth  and  cheeks  with  a  knife,  after  the  jaws  had 
been  stretched   wide  open  with  a  wooden   instrument. 
To  have  ordered  the  death  of  any  man  or  woman  would 
have  been  an  unpardonable  sin  in  a  Buddhist ;  hence  the 


THE    LAWS    OF    MANtJ 

pronouncement  of  the  death  sentence  by  the  King  was 
in  the  formula,  "  Let  his  property  be  confiscated,  and  let 
him  travel  by  the  usual  road."  In  Thibaw's  time  (1878- 
1885)  it  is  said  to  have  been  more  tersely  summed  up  in 
a  mere  wish  not  to  see  the  person  again. 

The  chief  civil  and  criminal  Courts  of  First  Instance  in 
Mandalay  were  situated,  like  the  Hlutdaw,  at  the  Red 
or  King's  Gate  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  palace,  but 
beyond  the  stockade  or  external  inclosure.  The  Civil 
Court  decided  important  suits  arising  in  Mandalay,  and 
considered  appeals  from  provincial  and  subordinate 
courts.  But  as,  theoretically,  no  civil  case  was  beyond 
the  jurisdiction  of  the  Hlutdaw,  all  appeals  concerning 
landed  property  and  hereditary  offices  were  brought 
before  the  latter.  All  criminal  appeals  were  also  brought 
before  the  Hlut,  whilst  the  Criminal  Court  merely  dis- 
posed of  cases  which  occurred  at  the  capital. 

The  Dammathdt  or  Laws  of  Manu,  the  great  primary 
judicial  code  forming  the  Institutes  of  Law  in  both  civil 
and  criminal  matters,  consists  of  fourteen  sections.  It  is 
a  theoretical  guide  to  the  statute  law,  in  which  the  pre- 
cepts are  very  frequently  illustrated  by  means  of  parables, 
according  to  ancient  custom  throughout  all  the  East. 
Some  of  the  sections  are  practically  confined  to  one 
subject,  and  are  more  or  less  complete,  as,  for  example, 
the  third  section,  dealing  with  borrowing,  lending,  and 
debts  ;  the  seventh,  detailing  the  laws  of  slavery ;  the 
tenth,  laying  down  the  law  of  inheritance ;  and  the  thir- 
teenth, treating  of  betting ;  but  there  is  a  general  want 
of  anything  like  codification  or  systematic  collection  of 
different  subjects  under  groups  in  logical  sequence.  So 
far  as  any  system  in  the  arrangement  can  be  traced  the 
Dammathdt  begins  by  dealing  with  the  boundaries  of 
land,  for  *'  Cursed  is  he  that  removeth  his  neighbour  s 
landmark  "  found  a  foremost  place  in  the  ancient  laws 
of  all  eastern  nations.  It  then  goes  on  to  deal  with 
movable  property,  with  laws  relating  to  pledges,  hiring, 
master  and  servant,  taxes  and  contracts,  with  theft  and 
assault,  with  the  law  of  husband  and  wife,  with  laws 
relating  to  other  men  and  women,  with  slaves  and  slavery, 
with  rights  in  land,  gifts,  borrowing,  lending,  and  hiring, 


with  miscellaneous  matters  connected  with  persons  and 
personal  property,  with  inheritance,  with  divorce  and  the 
partition  of  property  on  separation,  and  with  betting  ; 
finally  it  ends  with  miscellaneous  matters  chiefly  regard- 
ing the  Upazd  or  "  precincts  "  of  houses,  monasteries, 
villages,  towns,  etc.,  and  the  law  of  trespass  by  huntsmen, 
fishermen,  gatherers  of  honey,  marriage  parties,  and 
funeral  processions. 

Some  of  the  matters  dealt  with  are  very  amusing. 
Thus,  in  the  fourth  section  there  are  laws  ''regarding 
one  person  kicking  another','  or  "  when  one  person  pulls 
another  s  hair  I'  and  ""when  a  dtgraded  person  points  with 
the  finger  at  a  respectable  one','  as  well  as  "  the  law  by 
which  men  are  divided  into  three  classes  —  excellent, 
middling,  and  depraved, — and  each  of  these  is  also  sub- 
divided into  three  classes."  Again,  in  the  eighth  section, 
laws  are  laid  down  regarding  borrowing  clothes  and 
going  to  a  funeral  in  them,  or  unthinkingly  wearing 
them  whilst  washing  the  head  in  order  to  avert  the  evil 
influence  of  the  stars.  The  section  following  this  con- 
tains the  laws  when  a  father-in-law  assaults  his  son-in- 
law,  and  vice  versa,  also  when  the  property  of  a  visitor  is 
lost  whilst  he  is  residing  as  guest  in  any  house,  or  when 
the  property  of  the  house-owner  is  lost  during  the  guest's 
stay  ;  and  the  laws  relating  to  the  seven  kinds  of  witches 
or  wizards,  and  their  trial  by  ordeal  of  water. 

The  perusal  of  these  Laws  of  Manii  is  of  considerable 
assistance  in  arriving  at  a  true  comprehension  of  the 
Burmese  national  character.  They  have  a  strictly  re- 
ligious basis.  Though  the  laws  take  cognizance  of  mur- 
der and  homicide,  wilful  and  otherwise,  and  the  killing 
of  animals,  yet  they  do  not  prescribe  or  sanction  the 
infliction  of  capital  punishment;  and  in  this  they  differ  con- 
siderably from  the  more  ancient  laws  in  other  parts  of 
the  East,  which  demanded  a  life  for  a  life,  an  eye  for 
an  eye,  and  a  tooth  for  a  tooth.     Thus, — 

The  la\y  relating  to  murder  is  that,  from  any  man  who  has  killed 
another  with  a  sword,  spear,  bow  and  arrow,  or  any  other  instrument, 
it  is  proper  to  demand  restitution  in  an  increased  number  of  men;  it  is 
not  proper  to  put  him  to  death.  If  a  dog  bite  a  man's  foot,  it  is  not 
proper  for  that  man  to  bite  the  dog's  foot;  nor  is  it  right  to  put  any 


THE    LAWS    OF    MANU 

man  to  death  because  he  has  killed  another.  A  king  who  does  not  put 
a  murderer  to  death  will  be  praised  by  the  good  spirits  and  all  good 
men,  and  will  be  supported  and  assisted  by  them  ;  while  all  evil  beings, 
who  have  no  respect  for  the  laws,  will  keep  afar  off.  The  country  ruled 
over  by  such  a  king  will  be  pleasant  to  dwell  in,  and  the  inhabitants 
thereof  will  be  prosperous  and  happy. 

No  mention  whatever  is  made  of  imprisonment,  the 
punishments  prescribed  for  offences  invariably  taking  the 
form  of  compensations  or  fines,  either  in  kind  or  else  in 
silver  or  gold,  commensurate  with  the  amount  of  injury 
inflicted  and  with  the  manner  or  intention  of  inflicting 
it.  Under  certain  circumstances  slavery  was  a  punish- 
ment for  debt ;  and  of  the  sixteen  kinds  of  slaves  four 
became  so  from  this  cause.  Impartiality  on  the  part  of 
judges  was  exhorted  as  essential  for  the  proper  adminis- 
tration of  justice,  and  for  their  guidance  it  was  duly 
recorded  that  ''the  unjust  judge  shall  suffer  punishment 
in  hell  with  head  downwards,  while  the  just  judge  shall 
ascend  to  the  land  of  spirits  and  attain  Neikban  "  i^Ni}^- 
vana\  Truthful^evidence,  ranking  equally  in  importance 
with  impartiality  in  the  judge,  is  enjoined  under  pain  of 
immediate  degradation,  the  "  law  of  evidence "  being 
tersely  summed  up  thus  : — 

Oh,  King!  if  any  man,  whether  produced  as  a  witness  or  not,  who 
habitually  prevaricates  in  place  of  speaking  truthfully — who  calls  the 
elder  the  younger,  and  the  younger  the  elder  ;  the  greater  the  less,  and 
the  less  the  greater ;  the  good  bad,  and  the  bad  good — when  examined 
as  a  witness  between  two  parties,  does  not  tell  the  truth,  and  the 
case  is  decided  in  consequence  of  his  false  evidence :  let  this  false 
witness  be  taken  before  the  house  of  him  who  hath  thereby  suffered 
damage,  and  let  him  there  beg  for  ten  to  fifteen  days,  with  his  face 
blackened  with  soot,  with  his  body  whitewashed  with  hme,  naked, 
and  holding  in  his  hand  a  potsherd ;  and  then  let  him  be  turned  out 
of  the  country,  and  called  a  degraded  fellow,  whose  word  cannot  be 

The  laws  of  husband  and  wife,  of  divorce  and  partition 
of  property  on  separation,  and  the  laws  of  inheritance,  are 
given  with  very  full  detail,  and  are  much  more  practical 
and  concrete  than  the  above  theoretical  treatment  of 
perjury.  Marriage  consists  in  a  man  and  a  woman  being 
given  to  each  other  by  their  parents,  or  being  brought  to- 



gether  by  the  intervention  of  a  go-between,  or  by  coming 
together  by  mutual  consent ;  but,  in  each  case,  living  and 
eating  together  out  of  the  same  dish  constitute  the  legal 
outward  sign  of  marriage.  The  seven  kinds  of  wives  are 
enumerated  and  described  both  in  the  fifth  and  the  twelfth 
sections  of  the  Dammatkdt,  the  title  of  the  latter  section 
being  The  Seven  Kinds  of  Wives,  the  Three  Ways  of 
Co7itracting  Marriage,  and  the  Law  of  Divorce.  The 
descriptions  of  the  seven  kinds  of  wives  afford  so  good 
an  insight  into  certain  phases  of  Burmese  character 
and  of  domestic  relations  that  they  are  worth  quoting  at 
length  : — 

I.  A  Wife  like  a  Mother  is  this : — A  mother  takes  care  that  no  bugs, 
gnats,  mosquitoes,  or  horseflies  bite  or  sting  her  child.  If  he  be  in 
charge  of  any  other  person,  she  fears  he  will  receive  hurt  or  get  im- 
proper food,  that  they  do  not  love  him,  or  that  they  love  and  hate  him 
at  the  same  time.  If  he  cries,  she  thinks  he  is  being  beaten.  If  others 
give  him  the  best  of  food,  she  thinks  there  may  be  poison  in  it,  and 
wishes  him  to  eat  only  what  she  herself  selects.  If  he  be  asleep  or 
doing  nothing,  she  is  happy  and  contented ;  and  no  matter  how  he  is 
dressed,  she  thinks  him  handsome.  Lest  anything  befall  him  while 
asleep,  she  will  not  leave  him  till  he  wakes.  If  he  walks  out  in  the  sun 
or  rain,  she  is  anxious  lest  he  be  sunstruck,  or  slip  and  fall.  Though 
she  may  have  neither  rest  nor  food,  she  is  happy  if  her  child  has  ;  and 
if  she  can  hear  his  voice,  even  abuse  and  bad  language  sound  pleasant, 
though  kissing  him  she  gently  chides  him,  and  bids  him  not  repeat  such 
bad  words.  When  alone,  so  that  others  cannot  hear,  she  makes  known 
to  him  the  proper  time  for  going  or  for  tarrying,  for  coming  or  for  stay- 
ing away,  for  remaining  or  not,  for  sleeping  or  for  waking,  for  eating  or 
for  fasting,  and  various  other  matters.  She  repeatedly  warns  him 
against  the  five  sins  of  taking  life,  stealing,  committing  adultery,  lying, 
and  drinking,  and  reminds  him  that  only  the  three  precious  gems — the 
Buddha,  the  Law,  and  the  Assembly — are  worthy  of  reverence.  She 
places  him  with  a  good  teacher  for  instruction,  and  rejoices  if  he  earn 
praise  from  his  teacher  and  wishes  to  become  a  probationer  for  the  re- 
ligious life.  But  if  he  wish  to  live  the  life  of  a  layman,  her  heart's 
desire  is  that  he  should  only  espouse  a  girl  of  good  family,  and  that  she 
should  tend  him  till  the  end  of  her  life.  In  childhood,  when  she  holds 
him  to  her  bosom,  he  pulls  at  her,  scratches  her  face,  bites  her,  tears 
her  breasts,  and  pulls  at  her  mouth,  yet  she  is  not  annoyed. 

A  wife  who  thus  loves  her  husband  as  a  mother  loves  her  child,  who 
reflects  that  her  husband  has  been  given  to  her  by  her  parents,  or  that 
her  marriage  was  arranged  by  a  go-between,  or  that  she  chose  him  of 
her  own  free  will,  will  only  eat  when  he  eats  and  sleep  when  he  sleeps. 
She  will  say  to  herself,  "  My  husband  is  a  man;  and  matihood  is  a  great 
gift,  which  can  only  be  attained  by  a  woman  after  much  striving"  ;  and 
she  will  think  her  husband  comely  in  dress  and  well-behaved  in  eating. 



When  he  goes  to  festivals  or  assembhes,  she  will  so  dress  and  bedeck 
him  that  he  may  outshine  others,  and  will  wish  to  know  why  he  goes 
and  when  she  may  expect  him  back.  She  lays  out  his  dress  for  him, 
and  prepares  his  food.  If  he  hanker  after  another  woman,  she  does 
not  publish  this  fact  to  every  one,  but  conceals  it,  and  only  in  the 
privacy  of  their  chamber  she  discusses  whether  philandering  in  this 
way  be  right  or  not.  A  wife  who  thus  considers  the  good  of  her  husband 
and  his  affairs,  and  is  filled  with  kindly  sentiments  towards  him,  is  a 
wife  like  a  mother ;  and  such  a  wife  is  deserving  of  love. 

2.  A  Wife  like  a  Sister  is  this : — When  a  sister  grows  up,  she  is  be- 
comingly modest  and  timid.  In  her  comings  and  goings,  in  her  con- 
versation, in  dress  and  in  adornment,  from  the  soles  of  her  feet  up  to 
the  crown  of  her  head,  she  is  circumspect,  being  careful  not  to  expose 
herself  immodestly  even  before  her  brother.  In  laughing  and  talking 
with  her  brother  she  is  bashful,  and  speaks  with  downcast  countenance. 
A  wife  who  thus  tries  at  all  times  to  appreciate  the  position  of  a 
husband,  to  behave  with  becoming  modesty  and  reserve  towards  him, 
and  to  do  all  she  can  to  make  him  happy  and  fill  his  heart  with  sweet- 
ness, is  a  wife  like  a  sister. 

3.  A  Wife  like  a  Friend  is  this: — When  one  arrives  on  a  visit  to 
a  good  friend,  after  the  interchange  of  greetings,  he  brings  water  to 
wash  one's  feet  and  hands  and  to  refresh  one's  brow  and  face,  and  pre- 
pares a  pillow,  a  bed,  tobacco,  betel,  tea,  sweets  and  sours  good  for 
eating.  Then  he  offers  pleasant  greetings  to  the  guest,  addressing  him 
with  a  joyful  countenance.  A  wife  who  thus  looks  after  her  husband's 
wants,  who  feels  kindly  disposed  towards  him,  and  talks  to  him 
affectionately  and  in  moderation,  who,  in  his  comings  and  goings,  in 
his  friendships,  and  in  the  great  and  the  little  affairs  of  life  continually 
assists  and  works  for  him  like  a  good  friend,  who  looks  cheerful  when 
she  sees  her  husband  and  talks  pleasantly  to  him,  who  wishes  to  wash 
and  dry  his  feet,  to  lay  out  his  clothes  and  his  food,  to  prepare  his 
resting-place,  to  give  him  sweet  foods  and  sour  in  due  season,  and 
to  look  after  his  comfort,  is  a  wife  like  a  good  friend. 

4.  A  Wife  like  a  Master  is  this : — A  master  makes  his  slave  give 
him  his  sandals  and  his  fan,  prepare  his  pillow  and  his  couch,  get  ready 
water  for  bathing,  accompany  him  on  journeys,  and  bring  him  inform- 
ation as  to  what  is  going  on.  If  the  slave  fails  to  do  these  things 
properly,  the  master  does  not  chide  him  gently,  but  passionately  ex- 
claims in  pride  and  haughtiness,  "  Hey  I  you  ugly  brute,  you  fool,  you 
son  of  poverty-stricken  parents  plunged  in  debt  and  reduced  to  slavery  I" 
He  pulls  his  servant's  front  hair,  punches  him  with  his  elbow,  beats 
him  with  whatever  he  happens  to  get  hold  of,  and  kicks  him,  unheeding 
that  the  poor  fellow  works  for  him  without  getting  good  food  or  clothing, 
and  without  being  well  cared  for.  A  wife  who  thus  haughtily  addresses 
her  husband,  saying,  "Hey/  you  ugly  fellow,  you  dirty,  low  brute/"  who 
reviles  his  parents  and  other  relations,  who,  in  distributing  clothing  and 
food,  keeps  the  best  clothes  for  herself  and  leaves  the  rest  for  her 
husband,  who,  first  of  all,  eats  the  tit-bits  and  gives  him  only  the 
leavings,  and  who  will  not  allow  him  to  say  a  word  although  she  herself 
speaks  far  more  than  she  ought  to,  who  sleeps  on  the  best  and  most 



comfortable  part  of  the  bed,  and  makes  her  husband  sleep  on  the  lower 
part,  and  who  does  not  consider  the  feelings  of  her  husband  but  only 
thinks  of  herself,  is  a  wife  like  a  master. 

5.  A  Wife  like  an  Enemy  is  this: — An  enemy's  thoughtis  todo  vio- 
lence whenever  he  sees  the  object  of  his  enmity,  or  to  contrive  his  death 
or  ruination.  If  he  cannot  attain  this,  he  feigns  affection,  and  gives 
him  poison,  when  pretending  to  give  him  good  things  to  eat  and  drink. 
If  this  be  discovered,  he  bribes  others  to  destroy  his  enemy  by  means 
of  spells  or  charms.  If  these  cannot  affect  his  person,  he  tries  to  ruin 
him  by  killing  his  buffaloes,  cattle,  horses  and  elephants,  or  by  secretly 
getting  others  to  set  fire  to  his  house,  garden,  granary,  and  property ; 
and,  while  he  speaks  as  if  he  loved  him,  he  intends  his  death  or  ruin- 
ation. The  origin  of  such  intention  may  have  been  the  refusal  of  some 
animate  or  inanimate  object  that  has  been  desired,  which  has  occasioned 
anger  and  has  changed  the  former  friendy  feeling  into  the  deadly  hate  of 
an  enemy.  When  a  wife  acts  in  something  like  the  above  manner,  wish- 
mgto  have  another  lover,  and  desiring  to  attain  this  object  by  compass- 
ing the  death  of  her  husband  by  means  of  poison  or  charms,  reviles 
him  and  his  parents,  his  grandparents  and  his  other  relatives,  she  is  a 
wife  like  an  enemy. 

6.  A  Wife  like  a  Thief  is  this: — A  thief  plots  day  and  night  how 
to  get  things  that  belong  to  others.  Stealing  secretly  himself,  he  also 
gets  others  to  steal  for  him.  Changing  marks,  he  misappropriates 
articles,  substitutes  bad  for  good,  or  steals  in  other  of  the  twenty-five 
ways  enumerated  in  the  sacred  precepts.  A  wife  who  thus  acts  without 
the  knowledge  of  her  husband,  secreting  things  and  giving  them  away 
without  her  husband's  consent,  is  only  fit  to  be  called  a  wife  like  a  thief: 
and  she  is  a  wife  like  a  thief. 

7.  A  Wife  like  a  Slave  is  this : — She  lays  out  her  husband's  clothing 
and  sees  to  it  being  in  proper  order.  Having  considered  what  is  best 
for  her  husband  to  eat  and  drink,  she  prepares  his  food  nicely  and 
places  it  before  him  like  a  slave  serving  her  master  in  trembling  and 
respect.  When  he  arrives  from  a  far  journey,  she  receives  her  husband 
respectfully  by  kneeling  down,  sitting  upon  her  feet,  and  folding  her 
hands,  and  gives  him  water  for  washing  his  feet,  for  bathing,  and  for 
drinking.  If  he  should  happen  to  find  fault  about  any  household 
matter,  she  does  not  speak  back,  but  is  afraid  of  ruffling  his  temper  still 
further  by  saying  a  single  word  in  a  cross  manner.  She  does  not 
venture  to  eat  and  drink  while  her  husband  is  still  eating  and  drinking, 
but  waits  till  he  has  finished  and  then  eats  what  is  left.  Such  a  wife  is 
a  wife  like  a  slave. 

Oh,  wise  judges !  Of  these  seven  kinds  of  wives,  a  wife  like  an 
enemy  and  a  wife  like  a  thief  should,  if  their  shortcomings  are  clearly 
proved,  receive  judgment  as  if  they  were  enemies  and  thieves. 

Of  these  seven  kinds  of  wives,  the  wife  like  a  mother,  the  wife  like  a 
sister,  the  wife  like  a  friend,  and  the  wife  like  a  slave  ought  not  to  be 
put  away  by  any  man,  but  should  be  lived  with  for  life.     But  the  three 



others,  the  wife  Uke  a  master,  the  wife  like  an  enemy,  and  the  wife  Hke 
a  thief,  may  be  put  away  even  if  they  have  borne  ten  children  :  they 
need  not  be  lived  with  even  for  one  day  longer.  Of  these  seven  kinds 
of  wives,  the  wife  like  a  slave  will  not  be  disappointed  should  she  pray 
to  become  a  man  in  the  next  state  of  existence,  for  her  desire  shall  be 
fulfilled,  and  she  will  attain  Neikban  (Nirvana)  before  any  of  the  others. 

Marriage  was  not  a  union  irrevocably  binding.  Divorce 
was  obtainable  by  mutual  consent,  or  at  the  instance  of 
either  party  ;  and  the  partition  of  property  on  separation 
was  provided  for  in  about  fifty  laws  taking  cognizance  of 
the  reasons  for  separation  and  the  social  status  of  husband 
or  wife. 

The  simplest  form  of  divorce  was  the  separation  by 
mutual  consent  of  a  husband  and  wife,  both  born  of 
parents  who  were  freemen.  In  this  case  the  husband  and 
wife  were  each  allowed  to  take  their  personal  clothes 
and  ornaments.  Any  property  acquired  by  the  husband 
alone,  or  by  the  wife  alone,  was  to  be  divided  into  three 
portions,  of  which  the  person  who  had  separately  ac- 
quired it  took  two,  while  the  third  went  to  the  other 
party ;  but  property  acquired  by  joint  endeavour,  or 
where  both  had  an  equal  share  in  the  capital,  was  equally 
divided.  If  the  clothes  or  personal  ornaments  of  the 
one  were  much  more  valuable  than  those  of  the  other, 
they  were  to  be  valued  and  the  difference  made  good. 
With  regard  to  children  of  the  marriage,  the  father  took 
the  boys,  unless  they  were  too  young  to  be  taken  from 
the  mother,  and  the  mother  took  the  girls.  If  debts  had 
been  incurred  during  the  period  of  cohabitation,  they 
were  to  be  borne  equally.  After  separation  and  division 
of  the  property,  each  party  had  full  right  to  form  any 
new  connexion  in  marriage. 

When  only  the  husband  or  the  wife  wished  to  separate, 
but  the  other  party  did  not  consent  to  a  divorce,  and  no 
particular  cause  was  specified  for  dissolution  of  the 
marriage,  but  merely  the  broad  generalization  of  incom- 
patibility from  ''their  destinies  7iot  being  cast  together','  all 
property,  animate  or  inanimate,  went  to  the  non-consent- 
ing party  ;  while  the  party  wishing  for  a  divorce  only 
retained  his  or  her  clothes  and  ornaments,  and  had  to 
pay  any  expenses  incurred  in  obtaining  the  separation. 


When  there  was  no  property  beyond  clothes  and  house- 
hold articles  to  dispose  of,  if  the  man  wished  to  separate 
he  could  only  take  away  with  him  one  turban,  one  jacket, 
one  loin-cloth,  and  one  Da  or  bill  ;  while  the  wife,  if 
suing  for  the  divorce,  in  addition  to  her  jacket,  loin-cloth, 
and  kerchief,  could  also  remove  the  cloth  woven  and 
rolled  up  on  her  loom,  the  loom,  the  shuttles,  and  the 
other  implements  belonging  to  it. 

When  a  divorce  took  place  by  mutual  consent,  each 
party  had  to  pay  an  arbitration  fee  of  fifteen  rupees 
\£i)\  but  otherwise  this  fee  had  only  to  be  paid  by  the 
party  seeking  the  dissolution  of  the  marriage. 

If  a  husband,  having  taken  a  lesser  wife,  abused  and 
beat  his  first  wife  and  oppressed  her,  they  were  to  try 
to  live  again  on  good  terms  ;  but  if  this  conduct  were 
repeated,  the  chief  wife  could,  under  the  special  circum- 
stances, claim  a  divorce  on  the  same  terms  as  if  both 
parties  were  consenting,  even  though  the  husband  de- 
clared his  unwillingness  to  separate. 

Certain  improprieties  in  conduct  on  the  part  of  a  wife, 
being  regarded  merely  as  gross  breaches  of  wifely  eti- 
quette, did  not  form  legal  grounds  for  a  divorce ;  while 
she  was  further  protected  by  law  with  specific  reasons 
justifying  her  abusing  her  husband  and  imprecating  evil 
on  him — a  license  which  many  wives  freely  availed  them- 
selves of.  The  fivefold  improprieties  which  a  wife  might 
thus  exhibit  without  affording  adequate  grounds  for  a 
divorce  included  impropriety  in  dress,  in  eating,  in 
relations  with  other  men,  in  property,  and  in  be- 

Improprieties  with  regard  to  Dress  are  these : — If  any  woman,  whether 
well  or  sick,  goes  inappropriately  dressed  to  a  festival  or  even  where  there 
is  no  public  entertainment,  or  inconsiderately  goes  to  the  house  of  the 
dead  in  other  than  the  customary  dress,  or  if,  not  having  clothes  of  her 
own,  she  pays  more  than  she  ought  to  for  clothes  to  bedeck  herself  with, 
or  has  many  more  clothes  than  she  requires  and  overdresses  herself  day 
and  night,  or  if  she  hides  her  dresses  from  her  husband  and  only  puts 
them  on  for  the  sake  of  being  praised  by  others,  or  if  she  gets  into  debt 
by  buying  clothes  and  will  even  go  the  length  of  selling  her  children 
into  slavery  for  the  sake  of  dress,  or  would  have  herself  better  dressed 
than  her  husband,  such  a  wife  acts  with  impropriety  in  regard  to  dress. 

Improprieties  with  regard  to  Eating  are  these : — If  any  wife  eat  before 
her  husband  has  eaten,  or  eat  frequently  without  his  knowledge,  or  take 



the  good  things  for  herself,  so  that  her  husband  only  has  the  coarser 
food,  or  continually  overeats  to  a  dangerous  extent,  or  who,  being  a 
woman,  eats  raw  meat  with  the  blood  in  it  such  as  is  fit  only  to  be  eaten 
by  a  man,  or,  contrary  to  custom,  wants  to  eat  at  all  sorts  of  times  even 
in  presence  of  others,  she  is  a  woman  without  shame  or  fear,  and  is 
guilty  of  impropriety  in  eating.  Men  may  eat  of  many  dishes  that  may 
be  succulent,  sweet,  astringent,  bitter,  sharp,  or  sour ;  but  if  a  woman 
wishes  to  eat  ^thus  from  many  dishes,  or  heaps  all  sorts  of  food  into 
one  dish  for  herself,  this  is  excess  in  eating.  Whether  she  eat  openly 
before  others  or  secretly,  whether  with  her  husband's  knowledge  or 
without  it,  the  woman  who  eats  thus  commits  an  impropriety  in  eating. 
Or  when  several  people  are  together  at  food,  it  is  improper  for  a  woman 
to  be  always  dipping  her  fingers  into  the  dishes,  or  to  be  continually 
rising  up  and  then  sitting  down  again,  or  standing  and  making  faces  : 
these  are  all  forms  of  impropriety  in  eating. 

Improprieties  with  regard  to  Men  are  these : — If  any  woman  assumes 
a  smiling  countenance  on  seeing  other  men  than  her  husband,  if  she 
take  men  by  the  hand  and  seem  delighted,  if  she  call  any  man  to  her 
to  make  friends  with  him  or  ask  men  passing  by  to  stop  and  sit  down, 
if  she  seek  acquaintances  only  among  men  rather  than  among  women, 
these  are  all  improprieties  with  regard  to  men. 

Improprieties  with  regard  to  Property  are  these : — If  any  woman  place 
in  the  outer  portion  of  the  house  things  that  ought  to  be  in  the  inner 
room,  or  vice  versa,  if,  having  but  little  to  live  on,  she  spend  a  good 
deal  for  the  sake  of  display  before  others,  if  she  give  presents  without 
her  husband's  knowledge,  if  she  intentionally  put  in  prominent  places 
things  that  should  be  kept  out  of  sight,  or  if  she  be  continually  showing 
off  and  talking  to  others  about  her  own  things,  she  is  a  woman  guilty  of 
improprieties  as  regards  property. 

Improprieties  with  regard  to  Behaviour  are  these : — A  self-respecting 
woman  should  behave  with  decorous  reserve  on  hearing  the  voice 
of  any  other  man  than  her  husband,  or  even  without  hearing  any  man's 
voice.  If  she  look  out  from  the  entrance  of  her  house  beyond  the 
fence,  if  she  be  continually  looking  up  and  turning  her  eyes  and  her 
face  in  all  directions,  or  if,  when  she  goes  out,  she  be  constantly  turning 
and  looking  at  men  whom  she  sees,  or  whose  voices  she  hears,  such 
a  woman  is  guilty  of  impropriety  in  conduct. 

Though  a  wife  could  not  be  divorced  for  any  or  all  of 
these  improprieties,  the  Dammathdt  laid  down  that  the 
husband  had  a  right  to  inflict  personal  chastisement  on 
her.  If,  after  frequent  chastisement,  she  still  continued  to 
be  guilty  of  improprieties  in  conduct,  a  divorce  was  obtain- 
able, each  taking  the  separate  property  held  at  the  time 
of  marriage,  and  the  husband  taking  also  what  had  been 
acquired  during  the  period  of  cohabitation.  It  was 
further  laid  down  that  for  drinking,  want  of  order  or 
neatness   in   household  arrangements,  scolding  her  hus- 



band  or  reviling  him  when  absent,  gadding  about  and 
talking  in  other  people's  houses,  and  lolling  about  the 
front  of  the  house,  similar  chastisement  should  be  inflicted 
for  at  least  three  times  before  the  husband  should^  be 
justified  in  seeking  divorce  from  such  a  wife.  If  he  failed 
to  master  her,  and  she  continued  her  former  habits, 
divorce  was  obtained  on  similar  conditions  to  those  above. 
For  excessive  pride  about  family,  personal  appearance, 
or  property,  or  for  running  down  her  husband's  family  or 
friends,  personal  correction  was  also  prescribed  to  be 
inflicted  thrice  before  separation  became  justifiable.  And 
the  method  of  chastisement  wa3  duly  prescribed  : — 

In  chastising  his  wife  the  husband  is  not  to  beat  her  with  his  elbow 
or  fists,  or  with  a  doubled  rope  or  a  thick  stick,  or  kick  her  on  the 
breasts,  or  tread  on  her  neck,  which  is  only  treatment  fit  for  a  slave  or 
an  adulterous  wife ;  but  he  may  whip  her  with  a  thin  wand,  or  with 
the  palm  of  his  hand,  on  the  loins,  buttocks,  or  feet. 

A  wife  had  the  right  to  abuse  her  husband  and  impre- 
cate evil  upon  him  for  any  one  or  other  of  eight  specific 
causes.  If  they  were  very  poor,  and  he  could  not 
contrive  anything  for  their  subsistence  ;  if  he  were  sorely 
afflicted  with  disease,  and  unable  to  work ;  if  he  were 
ignorant  of,  or  cared  nought  for,  the  **  three  precious 
gems  :  the  Buddha,  the  Law,  and  the  Assembly"  ;  if  he 
were  a  fool,  who  did  not  know  a  good  man  from  a  bad  ;  if 
he  were  skilled  in  handiwork,  or  could  talk  well,  but  was 
lazy  and  would  not  exert  himself  to  work  ;  if  amorous  to 
excess  ;  if  he  were  apt  to  frequent  loose  places  ;  or  if  he 
were  much  given  to  betting  and  gambling,  she  could 
abuse  him  without  being  held  guilty  of  anything  justifying 
a  divorce.  If  the  husband  were,  however,  subjected  to 
such  continuous  nagging  that  married  life  became  in- 
supportable, then  a  divorce  could  be  obtained  as  by 
mutual  consent,  the  property  being  equally  divided  on 
separation.  According  to  the  Dammakdn,  or  Sacred  Law, 
it  is  wrong  for  a  woman  to  abuse  her  husband  for  faults 
that  she  sees  in  him ;  but  according  to  the  Dammathdt, 
or  Judicial  Law,  there  is  no  justification  for  a  husband 
separating  and  taking  all  the  property  simply  because 
his  wife  may  be  abusive. 

A  wife  having  long  moustaches  or  whiskers,  small  feet 

1 88 


and  large  hands,  who  walks  with  irregular  steps,  and 
who  has  no  well-developed  breasts,  may  be  divorced  as 
a  woman  with  whom  it  is  improper  for  other  people  to  sit 
on  the  same  level,  or  to  converse  on  religious  subjects  ; 
because  these  personal  defects  are  the  result  of  bad  deeds 
done  in  a  former  state  of  existence.  This  religious  idea, 
indeed,  underlies  the  Burmese  legal  aspect  of  divorce. 
The  proper  term  for  divorce,  Akaungkun,  literally  means 
"  a  cessation  of  the  coalescence  of  the  destinies  of  a  married 
couple^'  although,  colloquially,  the  word  Kwa,  "  to  sepa- 
rate," is  almost  invariably  used.  A  childless  wife,  or 
one  who  has  borne  several  daughters  but  no  son,  could 
also  be  separated  from  ;  and  for  these  and  a  great  many 
other  concrete  cases  the  partition  of  property  was  duly 
regulated  by  law. 

The  extreme  case  of  divorce  was  that  in  which,  after 
husband  and  wife  had  lived  together  very  happily,  the 
wife  committed  adultery.  In  this  case,  if  she  had  no 
property,  her  husband  had  the  right  to  sell  her. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  divorce  or  separation,  an  event  of 
somewhat  common  occurrence,  is  far  more  frequently 
claimed  by  wives  than  by  husbands.  Slippering  of  hus- 
bands is  much  more  common  than  beatinsf  of  wives  ;  and 
violent,  foul  abuse  of  husbands  is  often  heard  issuing 
from  the  mouths  of  wives  who  have  worked  themselves 
up  into  a  frenzied  state  of  fury.  It  cannot  be  denied 
that  the  Dammathdt  does  not  hold  anything  like  an  even 
balance  between  husband  and  wife  ;  but  then,  according  to 
Burmese  Buddhism,  the  wife  occupies,  and  herself  admits 
that  she  occupies,  a  very  inferior  position  to  a  man  upon 
"  the  ladder  of  existence  "  leading  upwards  to  Neikban 
or  annihilation.  As  a  woman,  however,  she  can  play  her 
part  well,  and  thereby  earn  religious  merit ;  for  in  these 
Laws  of  Manii  it  is  recorded  that — 

Even  a  man  is  worthless  if  he  have  no  good  habits  ;  while  a  woman 
may  be  excellent  if  her  conduct  be  good.  .  .  .  If  a  wife  assist  in 
<07npleting  her  husband,  her  conduct  gives  her  the  advantage  of  good 
deeds  throughout  future  existences.  Though  she  may  not  approve  her 
husband's  habits,  yet,  if  she  respectfully  yield  to  his  wishes,  she  is 
worthy  of  being  called  an  excellent  wife.  She  thereby  frees  herself  from 
hell,  and  is  brought  upon  the  road  leading  straight  towards  the  land  of 



In  addition  to  the  Dammaikdt,  or  Statute  Law,  there 
is  also  a  small  collection  of  ancient  precedents  in  law 
known  as  the  Pyatdon  or  "decisions"  of  Princess  Thu- 
dammasari,  somewhat  in  the  nature  of  a  very  brief 
compendium  of  Common  Law  perpetuated  in  the  form  of 
narratives  according  to  the  ancient  Eastern  style. 

As  these  fundamental  Institutes  of  Law  had  from 
time  to  time  undergone  various  modifications,  a  new 
compilation  of  the  laws  actually  administered  was  under- 
taken during  King  Thibaw's  reign  by  the  Kinwun 
Mingyi,  the  Prime  Minister,  after  consideration  and 
comparison  of  all  the  available  texts.  This  compilation, 
known  as  the  Attasankhepa  Vannand  Dammathdt,  was 
first  printed  in  Burmese  in  1882.  Since  then  it  has 
always  been  recognized  as  an  authoritative  statement  of 
the  Burmese  Buddhist  law ;  although  under  British 
administration  it,  of  course,  does  not  form  the  ultimate 
authority  in  legal  cases. 

In  this  latest  edition  of  the  Dammathdt  the  original 
Institutes  have  been  altered  to  suit  the  necessities  of  latter- 
day  life,  although  the  principles  underlying  the  new  version 
remain  unchanged.  The  law  of  inheritance  and  partition 
is  exceedingly  complicated,  and  this  alone  requires  no  less 
than  a  hundred  and  thirty-five  sections  in  its  enunciation, 
while  marriage  and  divorce  have  as  many  as  one  hundred 
and  twenty-three  sections  allotted  to  them.  These  latter 
developments  of  Burmese  law  are  exceedingly  interesting 
both  as  complements  to  the  extracts  above  given  from 
the  ancient  Manii  Dammathdt,  and  also  as  exhibiting 
the  evolution  of  legal  ideas  regarding  the  family  tie  and 
domestic  union.  They  possess  so  many  points  of  pecu- 
liar interest  in  these  regards,  and  are  at  the  same  time  so 
illustrative  of  national  habits  and  ideas,  that  a  compre- 
hensive summary  of  the  last  thirty-five  sections  relating 
to  divorce  deserves  to  be  given.  It  will  accordingly  be 
found  as  an  appendix  at  the  end  of  the  present  volume. 

Of  prison  administration  there  was  next  to  none. 
There  were  jails  at  the  chief  towns  of  districts;  while 
at  Mandalay  there  were  three,  namely,  one  inside  the 
palace  and  two  outside.  It  was  not  the  custom  for  the 
Burmese  Government  to  feed  convicts.     They  were  fed 



by  their  relations,  and  a  certain  number  of  those  who 
had  no  friends  willing  or  able  to  support  them  were  al- 
lowed to  go  out  and  beg  for  food  or  to  earn  it  by  carry- 
ing water,  collecting  firewood,  or  doing  other  odd  jobs. 
The  jails  were  loathsome  and  insanitary,  and  the  pun- 
ishments inflicted  were  barbarous  in  the  extreme.  In 
criminal  cases  torture  was  often  freely  applied  both  to 
the  accused  and  to  the  witnesses,  while  the  sentences 
varied  from  fines  and  a  few  stripes  with  a  cane  up  to 
imprisonment,  slavery,  and  death.  If  condemned  to 
slavery,  the  serf  and  his  descendants  became  slaves,  who 
were  allotted  to  pagodas  as  sweepers  of  the  precincts. 
The  taint  of  slavery  of  this  sort  could  not  be  cleansed 
away  :  even  if  a  freeman  took  the  daughter  of  a  pagoda- 
slave  to  be  his  wife,  their  children  were  serfs. 

Those  condemned  to  imprisonment  usually  had  to 
undergo  great  sufferings.  For  safe  custody,  their  feet 
were  tied  to  a  long  pole  or  bamboo  ;  and  at  night  this 
was  often  raised  by  blocks  so  that  only  the  shoulders 
and  head  rested  on  the  ground,  and  the  whole  weight  of 
the  body  was  thrown  on  them.  Or,  if  they  wore  fetters, 
a  bamboo  would  be  passed  between  the  legs  of  several 
prisoners,  and  then  raised  in  similar  manner.  The 
capital  sentence  was  usually  carried  out  by  decapitation 
or  disembowelment,  but  in  the  case  of  royal  prisoners 
the  head  was  drawn  back  and  blows  inflicted  on  the 
throat  with  a  bamboo.  In  1879  a  sister  of  the  Nyaung- 
yan  Prince  was  thus  executed,  and  as  she  was  a  strong 
young  woman  it  took  seven  blows  to  kill  her.  Thrown 
into  prison  along  with  her  mother  on  the  Nyaungyan's 
escape  to  Lower  Burma  in  1878,  they  were  for  some 
time  supported  by  alms  sent  from  the  British  Residency; 
but,  when  rumours  of  a  rising  by  the  Nyaungyan  Prince 
reached  the  palace,  the  go-between  grew  alarmed  and 
fled,  and  the  Princess  and  her  mother  were  fed  by  the 
mother  of  Thibaw's  Queens  till  the  order  was  given  for 
execution.  Sometimes  such  victims  were  trodden  to 
death  by  elephants,  as  happened  in  the  case  of  the 
widow  of  King  Bdgyidaw,  who  was  put  to  death  by 
King  Tharrawaddi  in  1840.  The  disembowelment  of 
heinous  offenders  usually  took  place  on  crucifixes,  con- 



sisting  of  two  or  three  upright  posts  with  crossbars  in 
the  shape  of  a  St.  Andrew's  cross,  which  were  fixed^  at 
places  of  punishment.  Sometimes,  too,  after  decapitation 
the  corpses  were  lashed  to  these  cru  ".  •  s,  and  in  either 
case  the  bodies  hung  there  till  the  Hl  '  i  been  torn  off 
by  vultures,  and  the  bones  fell  to  ...o  ground.^  This 
punishment  was  often  inflicted  on  dacoits.  It  is  pei- 
haps  only  fair  to  add  that  although  the  apparently  in- 
evitable massacres  which  took  place  when  he  deposed 
the  Pagdn  Min  in  1853  could  not  have  been  unknown  to 
King  Mindon,  yet  throughout  his  reign  but  little  blood 
was  shed  with  his  sanction  or  previous  knowledge ;  when 
executions  of  criminals  took  place,  the  facts  are  said  to 
have  been  carefully  kept  from  him. 

Judicial  business  was  conducted  with  great  solemnity 
and  ceremonial  within  the  Hlutdaw.  When  the 
Council  was  presided  over  by  the  heir  apparent,  or 
by  any  other  member  of  the  royal  family  acting  as  vice- 
president — for  the  King  was  the  president  ex  officio — 
only  the  suitors  or  their  advocates  were  permitted  to 
appear,  the  cases  being  heard  in  chambers,  as  it  were. 
The  members  of  the  Council  always  wore  a  uniform 
proper  to  the  occasion.  This  consisted  of  a  loose  robe 
of  muslin  thrown  over  a  tight-fitting  white  coat  made  of 
cotton,  whilst  a  narrow  fillet  of  rolled  white  muslin  was 
bound  round  the  head  and  tied  with  the  ends  pointing 
upwards.  Both  parties  to  the  suit  had  to  wear  the  dress 
considered  suitable  for  such  an  occasion ;  but,  previous 
to  their  being  allowed  to  appear,  they  were  robed  in 
long  loose  white  coats  and  then  capped,  the  plaintiff's 
cap  being  green  and  the  defendant's  red.  These  dis- 
tinctive articles  of  dress  were  usually  worn  by  the  ad- 
vocates only.  They  were  provided  from  the  public 
purse  and  kept  at  the  Hlutdaw  in  place  of  being,  like  a 
barrister's  wig  and  gown,  the  private  property  of  the 
individual  advocate. 

Whether  one  gained  or  lost,  a  lawsuit  was  always  an 
expensive  matter.  Fees,  presents,  and  bribes  were  un- 
avoidable, not  only  in  law  matters  but  whenever  officials 
of  any  high  degree  were  approached  on  business.  When 
presents  were  offered  to  the  King,  as,  for  example,  when 



concessions  were  asked  for  regarding  extracting  teak 
timber,  or  mining  earth-oil — and  without  such  douceurs 
no  petitioner  had  the  slightest  chance  of  success — a  pre- 
sent of  half  th'^^'.rn'jLe  was  also  made  to  the  Minister, 
who  urged,  or.  '  oout  to  urge,  the  grant  of  the  con- 
cession. The  \^  administration  in  all  its  branches 
\:as  rotten  with  corruption  and  bribery,  while  the  judicial 
system  in  particular  was  lax  and  corrupt  to  a  degree. 

The  institution  of  a  civil  suit  was  made  by  presenting 
a  written  petition  or  plaint  to  the  judge,  who  thereupon 
appointed  his  Nakdn,  or  assistant  (lit.  "listener")  to 
report  after  holding  preliminary  enquiries  among  the 
parties  to  the  suit  and  their  witnesses.  Together  with 
this  report  the  plaintiff  and  defendant  submitted  their 
pleadings,  respectively  setting  forth  in  detail  the  causes 
of  action  and  replying  thereto  with  full  statements  of 
defence.  A  day  having  been  fixed  for  hearing  the  case, 
advocates  were  chosen  and  the  suit  came  on  in  due 
course.  Guided  by  the  investigations  and  report  of  the 
Nakdn  the  issues  of  fact  were  fixed  by  the  judge,  who 
ordained  that  the  plaintiff  must  prove  certain  issues,  and 
that  the  defendant  must,  if  he  could,  in  like  manner 
prove  given  points.  After  the  examination  of  witnesses, 
judgment  was  pronounced.  If  the  parties  to  the  suit 
consented  to  accept  the  judge's  decision,  they  ate  pickled 
tea  {Letpei)  in  token  of  being  satisfied  with  the  decision 
of  the  court,  and  the  judgment  thereby  became  binding 
and  final.  Whether  before  arbitrators,  or  in  the  courts 
of  the  district  Governors,  or  in  the  civil  courts  at  the 
capital,  the  eating  of  Letpet  was  the  formal  acceptance 
of  the  judgment  by  both  parties  ;  and  refusal  to  eat  it 
meant  an  appeal  to  the  next  higher  court.  The  judg- 
ments of  the  Hlutdaw  being  final,  however,  there  was 
no  custom  of  eating  Letpet  upon  their  decisions  being 

It  not  infrequently  happened  that  when  the  non-con- 
senting party  proved  contumacious  and  unreasonable  in 
the  eyes  of  the  judge,  such  contempt  of  court  led  to  his 
being  cast  into  prison,  a  not  very  comfortable  place  under 
the  best  of  circumstances  in  Upper  Burma  in  those  days, 
and  he  was  kept  there  until  his  frame  of  mind  became 

193  0 


sufficiently  mollified  to  induce  him  to  eat  tea  and  thus 
accept  the  verdict  pronounced  by  the  court.  Like 
criminals,  such  persons  were  not  maintained  by  the 
State,  but  had  to  depend  on  relatives  and  friends  for 
their  daily  food. 

It  appears  to  have  been  a  sort  of  fundamental  axiom 
with  the  civil  courts  of  Ava  that,  when  suits  were  insti- 
tuted, both  parties  probably  had  a  certain  amount  of 
right  on  their  side,  but  that  both  were  at  the  same  time 
more  or  less  in  fault.  A  happy  compromise,  therefore, 
usually  seemed  to  the  judge  the  best  and  most  satis- 
factory way  of  terminating  the  differences  of  the  suitors. 
Though  devoid  of  anything  like  a  legal  basis,  this  guid- 
ing principle  seems  to  have  contained  a  good  deal  of 
sound  common  sense.  But  the  character  of  the  judges 
for  impartiality  was  held  rather  at  a  discount,  and  the 
rich  suitor  with  an  open  purse  had  a  better  chance  of 
obtaining  satisfaction  than  his  poorer  rival.  At  the  eat- 
ing of  tea  after  the  judgment  the  Letpet  was  almost  sure 
to  taste  sweeter  to  the  former  than  to  the  latter.  Bitter, 
indeed,  it  must  often  have  proved  to  the  poor  man  un- 
jusdy  sued  for  malicious  motives,  and  mulcted  in  money, 
cattle,  or  land  by  the  inequitable  judgment  bought  with 
the  wealth  of  his  enemy. 

For  the  trial  of  civil  suits  between  European  British 
subjects  and  Burmans  a  mixed  court  was  held  in  the 
palace  at  Mandalay,  where  the  British  Resident,  or  the 
Assistant  Resident,  sat  about  once  a  week  to  try  cases 
along  with  a  Burmese  judge.  This  custom  of  course 
lapsed  when  direct  diplomatic  relations  were  broken  off 
by  the  withdrawal  of  the  British  representatives  in  Octo- 
ber 1879. 


Chapter  VIII 


EVEN  before  King  Mindon  ascended  the  throne, 
early  in  1853,  he  had  two  dreams  which  impressed 
him  greatly.  In  the  first  of  these  he  saw  a  large  city 
lying  at  the  foot  of  Mandalay  hill,  a  few  miles  to  the 
north-east  of  Amdrapiira.  In  the  second  dream  he  was 
riding  a  white  elephant  which  took  him  to  the  foot  of 
Mandalay  hill,  where  he  dismounted.  Here  two  women, 
calling  themselves  Ba  and  Ma,  took  hold  of  his  right  and 
his  left  hands  and  led  him  to  the  summit,  where  a  man 
offered  him  a  handful  of  scented  grass,  and  told  him  that 
his  elephants  and  horses  would  always  thrive  if  fed  with 
the  grass  that  grew  round  about  the  hill. 

When  Mindon  became  King,  he  had  to  follow  the  cus- 
tom prescribed  for  the  maintenance  of  a  line  of  sucession 
having  the  pure  blood  royal.  For  this  purpose  one  of 
the  King's  daughters,  always  known  as  the  Tablndaing 
Princess,  remained  unmarried  in  order  to  become  the 
wife  of  the  next  monarch.  In  case  of  any  accident  be- 
falling the  Tabindaing  with  regard  to  producing  heirs,  the 
second  available  Princess  nearest  of  kin  to  the  royal  blood 
was  also  wedded  to  the  new  King.  The  former  became 
the  "chief"  Queen  {^Nanmaddw),  and  the  south  palace 
( Taungnyd)  was  assigned  to  her  use ;  while  the  latter 
became  the  "  middle  "  Queen  [Alenandaw),  in  contradis- 
tinction to  any  and  all  inferior  wives  raised  to  queenly 
rank.  Thus  Mindon  received  his  step-sister  and  his 
cousin  as  royal  consorts.  This  had  now  become  nothing 
more  than  the  survival  of  an  ancient  custom,  since  the 
throne  did  not  descend  by  direct  lineal  succession,  but 
was  filled  by   any    prince,    usually  a  brother  or  a  son, 



who  had  been  nominated  as  heir  apparent  by  the  King. 
The  only  requisite  quaUfication  was  that  he  should  be  a 
son  of  one  of  the  four  chief  Queens  of  a  King. 

Now  it  happened  that  these  two  Princesses,  who  became 
Mindon's  chief  Queens,  had  each  been  born  on  a  Thurs- 
day and  had  therefore,  for  reasons  elsewhere  explamed 
ivide  chapter  xxi.),  received  names  beginning  with  Ba 
and  Ma.  This  apparent  confirmation  of  part  of  his 
second  dream  made  Mindon  ponder  over  the  desirability 
of  founding  a  new  capital  on  the  level  plain  stretching 
towards  the  south-west  from  the  base  of  Mandalay  hill. 

Many  religious  recluses  of  saintly   reputation,   many 
men  of  light  and  leading,  and  the  royal  astrologers  were 
made  to  assemble  and  consult  on  this  matter ;  and  they 
almost  unanimously  advised  that  a  new  capital  should  be 
founded.     Only  two  men,  a  recluse  and  an  astrologer, 
dissented  from  the  consensus  of  opinion,  and  urged  that, 
for  all  practical  purposes,  Amdrapura  lay  near  the  foot 
of  Mandalay  hill.     But  Mindon  was  bent  on  having  a 
new  capital,  so,  in  1857,  the  foundations  of  that  city  were 
laid  which  became  known  to  the  English  as  Mandalay, 
although  to  the  Burmese  it  was  always,  previous  to  the 
British  annexation,    Shwemyodaw,  "  the    Royal    Golden 
City,"  or  else  Yadandbon,  "  the  Cluster  of  Gems."     King 
Mindon,   though   a   very  pious    Buddhist  and  strongly 
averse   to   the    shedding  of  blood,    was,   like  the  vast 
majority  of  Burmese,  simply  saturated  with  superstition. 
So  in  founding  the  new  city  he  acted  on  the  advice  of 
his  chief  astrologer,  and  a  pregnant  woman  was  slain  one 
night  in  order  that  she  might  become  the  guardian  spirit 
of  his  palace.     Throughout  the  whole  of  his  reign  offer- 
ings were  openly  made  in  the  palace  by  the  King  to  the 
spirit  of  the  murdered  woman,  which  was  supposed  to  be 
incarnated  in  the  body  of  a  snake.     This  is  a  strange 
and  strong  proof  of  animistic  worship  on  the   part   of 
one  who  was  unquestionably  a  most  religious  Buddhist, 
and   the   most   enlightened  of  all  the  monarchs  of  the 
Alaung  Payd  dynasty. 

Small  spirit-houses  {Natsin),  like  dove-cots,  are  still  to 
be  seen  on  the  tops  of  all  the  remaining  buildings  in  the 
palace ;  and  in  the  King's  apartments  there  are  holes  in 



the  roof  which  were  made  in  order  to  allow  the  resident 
spirits  to  visit  him  whenever  inclined. 

At  all  the  gates  in  the  city  walls,  and  at  the  four 
corners,  male  victims  were  also  done  to  death — being 
buried  alive,  it  is  said,  along  with  large  jars  of  oil — ac- 
cording to  the  ceremony  known  as  Sadd,  for  the  purpose 
of  providing  guardian  spirits  to  keep  watch  and  ward 
over  all  the  lines  of  approach  to  the  city.  Small,  white- 
washed, pagoda-like  tumuli  outside  the  gates  and  the 
corners  of  the  outer  walls  still  form  the  abodes  of  these 
guardian  spirits  of  the  city  (^Myozadd). 

As  the  city  was  founded  in  2,400th  year  after  the 
death  of  Gaudama,  the  city  walls  were  made  to  measure 
in  all  2,400  Td  (of  irii  feet),  each  one  of  the  four 
sides  of  the  perfect  square  being  thus  a  little  over  a  mile 
and  one- third  in  length.  Including  their  battlements 
they  are  28|-  feet  in  height,  are  built  of  red  brick,  and 
are  flanked  with  a  broad  earthen  rampart.  The  walls 
face  due  north,  east,  south,  and  west. 

On  each  side  at  regular  distances  ot  sixty  Td,  they  are 
(or  originally  were,  for  some  have  now  succumbed  to 
decay)  surmounted  by  ornamental  spires  (Tazdung, 
Pyathat)  richly  painted  with  cinnabar  and  profusely 
gilded.  Those  over  the  four  main  gates  have  nine  roofs, 
the  number  allowed  to  be  erected  only  over  the  King's 
palace  and  above  monasteries.  Often,  however,  some 
difficulty  is  to  be  found  in  counting  the  whole  of  the  nine 
roofs,  even  in  cases  where  they  all  really  exist,  as  two  or 
even  three  partial  false  roofs  are  sometimes  introduced 
to  simplify  construction.  The  two  minor  gates  on  each 
side  of  the  city  wall  are  topped  by  seven- roofed  spires, 
the  number  allowed  by  the  Burmese  sumptuary  laws  to 
tributary  chiefs  like  the  Sawbwa  of  the  Shan  States  ; 
while  all  the  other  smaller  Tazdimg  have  only  five  roofs. 
Some  of  these  have  already  fallen  down  through  decay 
and  neglect.  Outside,  the  city  was  surrounded  by  a  moat, 
which  is  fed  by  springs  preventing  the  water  from  stag- 
nating ;  for  the  three  requisites  of  a  Burmese  city  {^Myd) 
were  a  bazaar,  a  fortress  wall,  and  a  moat. 

Within  these  city  walls,  which  enclose  what  is  now 
known  as  Fort  Dufferin,  the  capital  was  laid  out  in  a  series 



of  squares  and  blocks,  whose  sides  were  parallel  to  the 
outer  defences.  In  the  centre  were  the  grounds  and  the 
palace  of  the  King,  forming  a  square  fortified  enclosure, 
each  side  of  which  was  somewhat  over  three  furlongs  in 
length,  defended  by  an  outer  palisade  of  sharp-pointed 
teak-posts,  about  sixteen  feet  high,  which  was  neither 
loop-holed  nor  provided  with  flank  defences.  About 
sixty  feet  behind  this,  separated  by  a  clear  space,  came 
an  inner  brick  wall,  which  has  now  been  almost  entirely 
removed,  though  portions  may  still  be  seen  (1898)  near 
the  north-east  corner.  Another  inner  wall,  now  almost 
entirely  destroyed,  enclosed  the  private  apartments  of 
the  royal  family  and  the  state  rooms. 

Around  the  palace,  outside  the  stockade,  were  grouped 
the  residences  of  all  the  great  Ministers  of  State,  with 
one  exception.  Each  was  in  the  centre  of  a  block, 
the  outer  portions  of  which  were  crowded  with  the  huts 
of  their  retainers  and  by  persons  keeping  petty  shops  or 
stalls.  The  only  building  of  this  sort  now  remaining 
(1898)  is  that  occupied  by  the  ex-Kinwun  Mingyi,  to  the 
south-east  of  the  palace.  No  masonry  buildings  were 
allowed  to  be  erected  save  within  the  palace  grounds,  so 
that  the  royal  city  was,  for  the  most  part,  a  rude  collection 
of  wooden  houses  and  bamboo  huts.  The  solitary  ex- 
ception above  noted  was  the  notorious  Taingda  Mingyi, 
a  ferocious,  bloodthirsty  ruffian,  who  was  directly  respon- 
sible for  some  of  the  massacres  during  Thibaw's  reign, 
and  indirectly  responsible  for  the  third  Burmese  war  and 
the  extinction  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava.  He  lived  in  a 
house,  now  totally  destroyed,  near  the  southern  gate  of 
the  inner  palace  enclosure. 

Outside  the  walls  of  the  city,  a  straggling  native  town 
stretched  southwards  towards  Amarapura  and  westwards 
to  the  Irrawaddy.  Settlements  here  were  encouraged  by 
King  Mindon,  not  only  because  they  naturally  meant  in- 
crease of  trade  and  traffic,  but  also  because  the  embank- 
ments rendered  necessary  for  the  protection  of  these 
suburbs  prevented,  as  he  thought,  the  possibility  of  the 
palace  ever  being  shelled  from  hostile  war-vessels  that 
might  lie  at  anchor  in  the  river. 

All  the  main  roads,  both  in  the  city  and  the  suburbs, 



were  well  planted  with  avenues  of  trees.  The  latter  were 
mostly  tamarind,  which  thrives  well  in  that  dry  climate. 

In  1886,  there  were  close  upon  6,000  dwellings  within 
the  city  walls,  and  about  24,000  forming-  the  various 
suburbs,  containing  a  total  population  of  about  180,000 
souls.  Most  of  the  houses  were  built  merely  of  bamboos 
with  mat  walling,  and  their  worth  could  not  exceed  about 
fifty  rupees  each  (^3  6s.  Sd.),  even  on  a  liberal  estimate. 
The  houses  within  the  walls  were  cleared  away  on  the 
British  occupation,  and  the  populace  transferred  to  blocks 
well  laid  out  to  the  south  and  west  of  the  city,  liberal 
compensation  for  disturbance  being  paid  on  a  scale  vary- 
ing according  to  the  number  of  posts  in  each  building. 

King  Mindon's  new  capital  was  occupied  in  i860.  His 
palace  is  a  strange  mixture  of  barbaric  art  and  matter-of- 
fact  utility.  It  Is  a  maze  of  buildings  of  all  sorts  and 
sizes  chiefly  constructed  of  teak-wood,  richly  carved  and 
thickly  gilded,  or  else  resplendent  with  looking-glass 
mosaic  of  showy,  tawdry  description,  though  crudely 
effective  from  a  distance.  All  these  profusely  decorated 
wooden  bulldinsfs  are  roofed  with  corrupfated  Iron. 

The  principal  entrance  to  the  palace  stockade  was  at 
the  Tagdni  or  "  Red  Gate  "  on  the  eastern  side.  This 
was  never  opened  except  on  great  state  occasions,  and 
entrance  could  only  be  effected  through  a  small  door  In 
the  same,  whereby  one  was  forced,  nolens  volens,  to  bow 
the  head  In  the  direction  of  the  palace  as  if  making 
obeisance  to  the  great  central  spire  above  the  chief 

Immediately  to  the  left  of  the  Red  Gate  stands  the 
tower  enshrining  the  sacred  tooth  of  Gaudama  received 
long  ago  as  a  gift  from  the  Emperor  of  China.  In  front 
of  that  Is  the  Hlutdaw  or  Great  Council  Hall  and  Hio^h 
Court.  At  some  distance  to  the  south  is  the  miniature 
monastery,  a  gem  of  looking-glass  mosaic  work,  to  which 
Prince  Thibaw  withdrew  for  a  time  in  order  to  perform 
the  term  of  monkhood  or  religious  retreat  obligatory  on 
all  male  Burmese.  To  the  north  of  the  main  gate  Is  the 
bell-tower  [Pahozin),  from  which  the  time  of  the  day 
and  night  was  told  every  third  hour  by  beat  of  drum-gong. 
A  little  further  on  stand  the  three  pagoda-like  tombs  of 



King  Mindon  and  his  two  chief  Queens,  whose  names 
were  indirectly  the  cause  of  the  foundation  of  this  last 
capital  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava. 

Of  the  palace  buildings  within  the  innermost  wall  the 
chief,  occupying  the  most  easterly  position,  is  the  My^ 
Nandaw  or  Imperial  Palace,  best  known  to  Europeans 
as  "  the  Centre  of  the  Universe."  This  is  a  lofty  nine- 
roofed  spire  {Pyatkat)  with  graduated  roofs,  ascending 
above  the  Lion  throne  at  the  end  of  the  Great  Hall^  of 
Audience  {Yondaw).  The  only  other  very  lofty  erection 
among  the  palace  buildings  is  the  look-out  tower  to  the 
south  of  the  Centre  of  the  Universe,  built  by  Thibaw's 
Queen,  Supayalat,  where  she  used  to  enjoy  the  cool 
breeze  in  the  evening,  and  from  which  she  witnessed  the 
entry  of  the  British  troops  into  the  south  gate  of  the  city, 
at  the  close  of  November,  1885.  A.  little  to  the  west 
of  this  tower,  and  adjoining  the  garden,  was  the  open 
pavilion  [Mandat),  roofed  only,  but  without  any  walls, 
where  theatrical  performances  took  place. 

The  main  buildings  themselves  were  the  various 
palaces  of  the  King  and  his  Queens,  and  the  private 
apartments  of  the  dowager-Queens  and  the  maids  of 
honour.  They  are  now  used  as  Government  offices. 
The  most  artistic  and  the  most  interesting  of  all  the 
buildings  is  the  western  hall  containing  the  Lily  throne, 
where  ladies  were  received  in  audience.  This  now  very 
appropriately  forms  the  ladies'  room  of  the  Upper 
Burma  Club.  Here,  on  the  further  portion  of  the  gilded 
doorway  to  the  north  of  the  throne,  are  the  four  finger- 
marks which  have  given  rise  to  the  story  that  they  are 
bloodstains  from  one  of  Supayalat's  victims.  That  she 
was  jealous,  cruel,  and  remorseless  is  a  matter  of  fact ; 
but  these  red  finger-prints  have  no  connection  with  that. 
They  are  merely  the  effect  of  some  incautious  person 
coming  from  behind  having  opened  the  right-hand  half  of 
the  door  before  the  gilding  had  become  thoroughly  set 
and  hardened,  and  ever  since  then  the  red  grounding  of 
cinnabar  has  shown  through  wherever  the  gold  came 
partially  away.  However,  this  Burmese  story  of  the 
palace  tragedy  is  quite  as  good  in  its  way  as  Rizzio's 
bloodstains  in  Holyrood,  or  as  the  stains  made  on  the 



wall  in  the  Wartburg  at  Eisenach  when  Luther  threw 
the  inkpot  at  the  devil's  head.  There  were  only  too 
many  real  tragedies  of  blood  in  the  palace,  without  in- 
venting mere  twaddle  of  that  sort  about  any  of  them. 

To  the  north  and  the  south  of  the  western  portion  of 
the  palace,  which  formed  the  ladies'  apartments,  there 
were  ornamental  gardens  with  spring-fed  ponds  and 
canals.  Here,  amid  palms  and  umbrageous  evergreen 
trees,  the  royal  family  took  the  air  in  the  evening,  while 
gliding  along  the  canals  in  the  royal  barge  or  wandering 
through  the  grottoes  and  labyrinths  strangely  and  won- 
derfully made  of  Portland  cement.  Quaint  in  every  re- 
spect as  to  its  rocks,  its  trees,  its  tiny  lakes  and  canals, 
and  the  rustic  bridges  crossing  these,  the  royal  gardens 
form  a  charming  lounge  at  any  time  of  the  day,  and  at 
any  period  of  the  year.  But,  to  appreciate  them  to  the 
full,  one  must  visit  them  in  the  evening  in  April  or  May, 
when  the  thermometer  has  all  day  long  been  registering 
above  ioo°  in  the  shade. 

Within  the  palace  there  were  eight  thrones  of  carved 
teak  wood,  richly  gilded,  while  a  ninth  occupied  the 
central  position  in  the  Hlutdaw  or  State  Council  Cham- 
ber. The  Lion  throne  at  the  western  end  of  the  great 
Hall  of  Audience,  above  which  towers  the  lofty  spire  of 
the  Centre  of  the  Universe,  was  the  principal  throne 
occupied  on  solemn  ceremonial  occasions ;  while  the 
seven  others  were  each  used  for  special  purposes. 
Seated  on  the  Duck  throne,  placed  further  westward  in 
the  interior  of  the  royal  apartments  and  behind  the  Lion 
throne,  the  King  received  foreigners  in  audience.  Be- 
hind that  again,  nearer  to  the  centre  of  the  royal  cham- 
bers, stood  the  Water  Festival  throne  used  at  the 
beginning  of  each  new  year  in  April.  From  the 
Elephant  throne,  in  the  Byedaik,  the  royal  elephant  was 
watched  at  exercise.  The  Snail  throne,  situated  some- 
what southwards  from  the  Duck  -throne,  was  used  only 
when  the  King  signed  a  warrant  for  the  appointment  of 
an  heir  apparent  who  should  succeed  him  on  the  throne. 
At  the  Deer  throne,  on  the  north  side  of  the  palace,  the 
royal  white  elephant  was  met  by  the  King  on  great 
occasions  ;    while  directly  opposite  this,  on  the  southern 



side  of  the  palace  buildings,  stood  the  Peacock  throne, 
from  which  the  royal  horses  were  inspected.  The  Lily 
throne,  by  far  the  most  beautiful  and  most  artistic  of  all, 
in  front  of  which  ladies  were  received,  was  situated  at 
the  western  extremity  of  the  palace.  All  of  these 
thrones  were  elevated  between  four  and  five  feet  above 
the  ground,  so  that  their  occupant  should  be  raised  well 
above  the  level  of  those  receiving  an  audience  and 
making  obeisance  on  the  floor  below.  In  front  of  the 
Judgment  throne  in  the  Hlutdaw  the  floor  was  punctured 
with  -|-"  holes  at  fixed  distances  for  the  Ministers  and 
other  great  officers  of  state,  and  for  lesser  notables  sitting 
round  the  edge  of  the  chamber.  These  small  cross-holes 
were  for  passing  up  long  pipe-stems  to  the  lips  of  those 
seated  on  the  floor,  while  the  bowls  were  fed  and  lighted 
by  attendants  below  ;  for  the  building  was  raised  seven  or 
eight  feet  above  the  ground  on  piles.  To  have  smoked 
cigars  or  the  huge  Burmese  cheroots  in  the  royal  pre- 
sence or  before  the  throne  would  have  been  a  breach  of 
etiquette,  but  the  concession  made  in  the  Great  Council 
Chamber  showed  how  necessary  smoking  was  appar- 
ently considered. 

The  British  Residency  lay  some  distance  to  the  west 
of  the  city,  and  the  Resident  was  only  permitted  to  enter 
the  city  walls  by  the  western  or  "  accursed  "  gate,  through 
which  corpses  were  conveyed,  and  the  passage  through 
which  by  any  King  meant  the  open  avowal  of  abdication. 
The  Residency  was  the  property  of  the  King.  Apart 
from  the  British  flag  flown  from  the  roof-top,  there  was 
nothing  whatever  to  mark  it  with  any  of  the  importance 
which  ought  to  have  been  attached  to  Her  Majesty's 
representative  at  a  foreign  court.  The  compound  or 
ground  surrounding  the  house  was  roughly  fenced  in 
with  bamboo  matwork,  supported  by  a  framework  of  teak- 
wood,  but  it  formed  no  defence  capable  of  resisting  any 
persistent  attack.  The  gates  were  guarded  by  Burmese 
soldiers,  who  were  in  reality  rather  a  band  of  spies 
making  daily  reports  to  the  palace  than  a  guard  of 

The  whole  of  the  Residency  staff  resided  within  this 
buildmg,  which  also  comprised  the  post  office  and  the 



mixed  court  wherein,  according  to  treaty  all  cases  involv- 
ing British  subjects  were  tried  by  a  bench  consisting  of 
a  British  magistrate  and  a  Burmese  official. 

Intercourse  between  the  townspeople  and  the  Resi- 
dency was  limited  owing  to  the  system  of  espionage  in 
force ;  and  access  to  the  palace  was  difficult,  even  when 
matters  of  importance  required  personal  discussion. 

The  services  of  the  Residency  Surgeon  were  some- 
times, however,  invited  in  serious  cases,  but  usually  only 
after  the  patient  had  advanced  to  an  almost  moribund 
condition,  and  had  been  given  up  by  the  Burmese 
medicine  men.  Practice  of  this  sort  was  not  hankered 
after.  In  most  cases,  the  doctor  arrived  too  late  to  be  of 
any  use;  and  practice  did  not  always  prove  lucrative. 
F'or  example,  after  curing  one  of  the  Ministers  of  a 
severe  internal  disease,  a  doctor  who  was  Residency  Sur- 
geon for  several  years  told  me  he  was  sent  a  gift  of  two 
cocoa-nuts  and  a  bunch  of  plantains  in  return  for  his  ser- 
vices. He  had  from  time  to  time,  however,  opportuni- 
ties of  seeing  strange  sights  within  the  inner  precincts 
of  the  palace.  Thus,  on  one  occasion,  during  King 
Mindon's  time,  about  1875,  he  saw  the  white  elephant 
receiving  its  morning  draught  of  human  milk.  About 
twenty  women  having  been  placed  in  a  row,  the  elephant 
went  behind  each,  put  the  tip  of  its  trunk  over  the 
woman's  shoulder,  and  sucked  each  breast  dry  of  its 
milk.  It  was  a  disgusting  sight,  he  said,  to  see  the 
nervous  state  into  which  the  women  fell  as  the  huge  brute 
slowly  made  its  way  down  the  line.  So  nervous  and 
excited  did  they  become,  that  the  milk  even  spouted  from 
their  breasts  before  these  were  touched  by  the  big  beast's 
trunk.  But  this  feeding  of  the  celestial  Sadddn  elephant 
was  an  act  of  great  religious  merit,  and  there  never  was 
lack  of  mothers  to  earn  this  for  the  sake  of  their  souls  in 
the  next  incarnation. 

A  curious  zoological  fact  with  regard  to  a  Burmese 
white  elephant  is  that  its  skin  need  not  necessarily  be 
white.  This  may  even  be  perfectly  black  ;  but  there'are 
other  signs  whereby  the  true  nature  of  this  pearl  among 
brute  animals  may  be  known,  despite  any  mere  superficial 
shortcomings.       Among   these    invariable   signs   one  is 



the  presence  of  a  boss  on  the  nape  of  the  neck,  just 
where  this  is  joined  on  to  the  back  of  the  skull. 

All  ceremonies  connected  with  royalty  and  court 
etiquette  were  duly  prescribed  and  were  carefully 
attended  to  in  every  particular,  except  on  the  part  of  the 
King,  who  followed  antecedent  customs  only  in  so  far  as 
suited  his  convenience.  When  a  King  was  pleased  to 
ascend  to  the  land  of  spirits—  so  ran  the  phrase  for  his 
demise — the  royal  white  umbrella  was  broken,  and  the 
great  drum-gong  on  the  bell-tower  at  the  eastern  gate  of 
the  palace  enclosure  was  perforated.  These  two  customs 
were  omitted  on  Mindon's  death  in  1878,  as  the  parties 
intriguing  to  place  Thibaw  on  the  throne  wished  to  com- 
plete all  their  arrangements  before  proclaiming  the  death 
of  the  late  King. 

A  white  umbrella,  the  sign  of  sovereignty,  was  only 
carried  over  the  King  and  his  chief  Queen.  The  white 
umbrella  {Tipytt)  was,  in  fact,  one  of  the  five  articles 
reckoned  as  regalia,  the  other  four  being  the  crown 
(Makd),  the  sceptre  (Thanlyet),  the  sandal  [Chenin),  and 
the  fly-flap  {Thdmyi  Yat\  On  receiving  these  insignia 
a  new  King  was  blessed  by  the  Brahmins,  and  water  was 
poured  out,  this  ceremony  [Adeiktheik)  being  the  equiva- 
lent of  the  ancient  custom  practised  elsewhere  of  anointing 
with  oil. 

The  use  of  golden  umbrellas  was  permitted  to  the 
members  of  the  royal  family,  the  tributary  chiefs,  and  the 
highest  officials  ;  while  officials  of  lower  degree  were 
allowed  to  have  red  umbrellas  and  large  fans  of  a  par- 
ticular shape  borne  over  them.  When  high  officials  or 
members  of  the  royal  family  passed  along  the  streets,  the 
way  was  prepared  for  them  by  lictors  (Letyddaung)  armed 
with  stout  long  rattans,  which  they  took  much  pleasure 
in  using  on  any  one  within  their  reach. 

When  any  great  personage  went  abroad,  the  whole  of 
the  roads  along  which  he  made  his  progress  were  fenced 
in  trellis  with  "  royal  lattice-work"  (Yazahmai)  of  bamboos 
or  laths  in  front  of  all  the  houses,  and  the  people  were 
not  permitted  to  approach  from  behind  that.  Indeed,  it 
was  considered  much  safer  to  retire  altogether  within 
their  houses,  and  to  peep  only  between  the  chinks  of  the 



bamboo-mat  walls  rather  than  allow  themselves  to  be  seen. 
It  was  not  altogether  safe  for  men,  and  often  very  unsafe 
for  women  if  they  happened  to  be  young  and  good-look- 
ing, to  fall  under  the  eyes  of  great  Princes  or  powerful 

The  King  himself,  however,  never  went  abroad  of 
late  years.  Possession  of  the  palace  meant  possession 
of  the  throne.  If  the  King  left  the  inner  palace  in- 
closure,  he  could  never  be  quite  sure  that  on  his  return 
he  might  not,  in  place  of  obtaining  re-admission,  have  to 
flee  through  the  western  gate  of  the  city  in  token  of  ab- 
dication. After  the  attempt  on  his  life  by  two  of  his  own 
sons,  in  1866,  King  Mindon  seldom  went  abroad  from 
his  palace,  and  King  Thibaw  probably  never  ventured 
outside  of  the  fortified  inclosure  during  the  whole  of  the 
seven  years  of  his  reign.  Thus  the  prescribed  annual 
festival  of  breaking  ground  with  the  plough  in  the  royal 
fields  to  the  east  of  the  city — "  the  blessed  ceremony  of 
ploughing"  {Mingaldtun) — upon  which  the  copiousness 
of  the  rains  during  the  months  of  June  to  October  was 
supposed  to  depend,  fell  into  abeyance  :  and  naturally, 
the  people  said,  this  led  to  the  more  frequent  recurrence 
of  years  of  insufficient  rainfall,  and  of  scarcity  and 
grievous  want  among  the  people  all  throughout  the  dry 
zone.  Thibaw  never  performed  this  ceremony,  similar 
to  that  annually  observed  by  the  Emperor  of  China 
and  by  the  Minister  of  Agriculture  in  Siam ;  and  this, 
the  people  said,  was  why  drought  became  chronic  and 
severe  during  his  reign. 

The  ladies  of  the  royal  household  and  their  apart- 
ments were  in  charge  of  eunuchs  {Memmas6)y  who  were 
only  to  be  found  at  the  capital  and  nowhere  else  in  the 
country.  None  of  the  inferior  Queens  were  permitted 
to  reside  within  the  main  palace  buildings  when  the  time 
of  their  accouchement  was  at  hand,  but  were  removed  to 
special  apartments  (Einneing)  reserved  for  this  pur- 
pose. When  they  went  abroad  to  visit  religious  shrines, 
or  for  any  other  purpose,  their  mode  of  progress  was  in 
richly  carved  box-like  carriages  mounted  upon  two  cart 
wheels.  As  these  were  small  and  had  no  springs,  and 
as  the  roads  were  bad,  unmetalled  and  full  of  deep  ruts, 



a  drive  to  any  pagoda  in  the  suburbs  was  hardly  a 
pleasure.  Men  of  high  degree  or  filling  great  offices  of 
State  usually  rode  on  elephants. 

Many  of  the  royal  ceremonies  were  peculiar,  and  all  were 
directly  or  indirectly  connected  with  the  national  religion. 
Two  of  these  may  perhaps  be  briefly  mentioned  as 
examples.  Twice  annually,  at  the  great  religious  festivals 
of  the  new  year  in  spring  and  of  the  termination  of  lent 
in  autumn,  the  King's  head  was  ceremoniously  washed 
in  water  which  used  to  be  specially  brought  for  this  pur- 
pose to  the  capital  from  "  the  head  wash  island  "  {Gaung- 
zd-Gyun)  between  Martaban  and  Moulmein,  near  the 
mouth  of  the  Salween  river.  This  custom  was  continued 
till  after  the  second  Burmese  war,  when  purified  water 
from  the  Irrawaddy  was  used.  It  was  then  that  the  two 
greatest  of  the  levies  or  receptions  known  as  the  Kaddw 
or  "  beg  pardon  "  were  held,  when  the  court  was  en  fete 
and  all  who  were  in  any  way  connected  with  it,  or  had 
anything  to  hope  from  it,  laid  tribute  or  presents  at  the 
"golden  feet"  of  the  King.  Every  day  the  King  wore 
a  new  silk  waist-cloth  {Pas6\  and  as  each  was  discarded 
after  being  once  used  it  was  lacquered  in  red,  richly  orna- 
mented with  gold,  and  then  cut  into  strips  upon  which 
the  Pali  text  of  the  ordination  service  for  monks  [Kam- 
mawd)  was  written  in  Burmese  characters  with  black 
varnish  (Thitsi). 

So  long  as  Mindon  was  able  to  hold  the  reins  of 
government  in  his  own  hands  matters  within  the  royal 
city  went  on  fairly  well,  although  direct  intercourse  be- 
tween the  British  Resident  and  the  King  had  even  then 
for  about  three  years  been  interrupted  on  account  of  the 
"  shoe  question  "  elsewhere  referred  to  {vide  page  30). 

There  was,  however,  one  ever-threatening  cause  of 
political  disturbance  connected  with  the  succession  to  the 
throne.  Early  in  his  reign  Mindon  appointed  as  heir 
apparent  his  brother,  to  whom  he  was  much  attached. 
As  the  King's  sons  grew  up,  they  deeply  resented  this 
nomination  of  their  uncle  ;  so  two  of  them,  the  Myingun 
and  the  Myingundaing  Princes,  rose  in  rebellion  in  1866, 
and  attempted  to  seize  and  dethrone  their  father  while 
he  was  residing  for  a  few  days  at  a  royal  pleasure  garden 



situated  about  a  couple  of  miles  to  the  south-east  of  the 
city.  The  King  managed  to  escape,  but  the  heir 
apparent  was  killed  along  with  three  of  the  King's  sons 
and  the  Myadaung  Mingyi,  then  Minister  of  War.  The 
attempt  thus  proving  futile,  the  rebel  princes  fled  into 
British  territory.  For  some  years  they  were  kept  under 
supervision  in  Rangoon,  till  the  Myingun  Prince  tried  to 
escape,  when  they  were  both  transferred  for  greater  safety 
to  Fort  Chunar  in  Bengal. 

After  that,  King  Mindon  felt  nervous  about  appointing 
an  heir  apparent,  and  his  nervousness  was  not  in  any 
way  dissipated  by  another  of  his  sons,  the  Prince  of 
Katha,  heading  an  attempt  to  dethrone  him  in  1870. 
But  although  he  must  have  known  that  his  action  was 
not  what  could  be  regarded  as  constitutional,  Mindon 
would  not  appoint  his  successor.  He  had  no  lack  of 
sons,  duly  qualified  by  blood,  to  choose  from.  His  family 
by  chief  Queens,  inferior  Queens,  and  mere  concubines 
numbered  about  a  hundred,  and  about  thirty  of  these 
were  sons.  But  the  number  of  Princes  who  had  any 
special  chance  of  finding  sufficient  support  upon  which 
to  base  aspirations  to  the  throne  was  practically  limited 
to  about  half  a  dozen.  These  were  the  Thonze,  Mek- 
kayd,  Myingun,  Myingundaing,  Nyaungyan,  Nyaungok, 
and  Thibaw  Princes.  The  two  first-named,  the  eldest, 
were  unsuitable  from  their  cruel  and  overbearing  dis- 
position, while  the  next  two  had  been  outlaws  and 
refugees  under  foreign  protection  since  their  dash  for 
the  throne  in  1866.  Hence  the  real  issue  as  to  succes- 
sion lay  between  the  Nyaungyan,  the  Nyaungok,  and 
the  Thibaw  Princes. 

It  had  always  been  understood  that,  rightly  or  wrongly, 
there  were  some  doubts  as  to  the  parentity  of  the  last 
named.  Mindon  had  consequently  often  expressed  his 
intention  that  this  particular  member  of  the  royal  family 
should  not  succeed  him  on  the  throne.  Actuated  either 
through  personal  fear,  or  else  hoping  to  avert  fratricidal 
bloodshed,  he  put  off  the  nomination  of  an  heir  apparent 
till  too  late.  By  the  middle  of  1878  he  was  so  ill  as  to 
be  unable  to  exercise  any  real  authority  over  affairs,  and 
as  early  as  August  rumours  of  his   decease  had  already 



begun  to  find  their  way  into  the  various  districts.  The 
palace  now  became  the  scene  of  continuous  intrigue  by 
various  parties,  but  definite  action  was  taken  early  in 
September  by  the  party  then  in  power. 

It  is  said  that,  while  on  his  deathbed,  Mindon  actually 
nominated  the  Nyaungyan  Prince  as  heir  apparent  and 
successor.     This  seems  to  have  been,  in  fact,  by  far  the 
most  suitable  selection  that  could  have  been  made.     He 
was  of  pure  royal   blood,  was  very  popular  throughout 
the  country,    and  was   much  esteemed  and  trusted   by 
Mindon  both  on  account  of  his  intellectual  qualities  and 
his  humane  disposition.      But  It  was  now  too  late.     The 
chief  Queen  had    three  daughters,  Supaydgyi,  Supayd- 
lat,  and  Supayagale.       The  young  Thibaw  Prince,  son 
of  a  Queen  of  Shan  extraction,  was  known  to  be  ena- 
moured of  one  of  these ;    so   Queen  Sinpyumashin,  an 
ambitious   and   crafty   woman,    resolved   to    secure   the 
throne   for   him,  raise  all    her   three  daughters   to   the 
highest  queenly  rank,  and  be  the  guiding  hand  control- 
ling the  destiny  of  affairs  through  these,  her  puppets. 
The  Taingda  Mingyi,  the  most  powerful  of  the  Ministers, 
fell  in  with  these  plans ;  and  even  the  Kinwun  Mingyi, 
the  Prime  Minister,  was  won  over  to  the  plot.     A  forged 
order,  purporting  to  come  from   the  King,  was  sent  to 
all  the  royal  Princes  and  Princesses,  who  were  therein 
summoned  to   appear    before  his  Majesty   to   hear   his 
nomination  of  a  successor  and  his  last  words  of  formal 
farewell.     As  they  came  to  the  royal  apartments  they 
were  one  by  one  seized  and  placed  in  confinement.    Thus, 
on   the    1 2th  September  all    the    Princes   of  the  royal 
blood  had  been  secured  save  two,  the  Nyaungyan  and 
Nyaungok   Princes,  who,   warned  either  by  instinct  or 
by  some  friendly  hint,  fled  to  the  British  Residency  for 
protection.     Opposition  thus  removed,  Thibaw  was  pro- 
claimed   heir    apparent,    and    by    ist    October,    when 
authentic   news  of  Mindon's  death   had  been  received, 
he  had  ascended  the  throne  without  opposition. 

Following  the  usual  custom.  King  Thibaw  made  Su- 
payagyi,  one  of  the  late  King's  favourite  daughters,  his 
chief  Queen,  but  she  absolutely  refused  to  be  his  consort 
in  anything  more  than  name.     So  her  sister,  Supaya- 



lat,  virtually  became  chief  Queen  ;  while  later  on  Supaya- 
gale,  the  youngest,  was  likewise  raised  to  queenly  rank. 
These  Princesses  represented  the  purest  of  the  pure  royal 
blood.  Their  father  was  a  son  of  King  Tharrawaddi, 
while  their  mother  was  a  daughter  of  Nanmadaw  Me 
Nu,  chief  Queen  of  Bagyidaw. 

But  the  Dowager  Chief  Queen  had  miscalculated.  No 
sooner  had  she  succeeded  in  crushing  anything  like  power 
and  authority  in  the  case  of  the  Kinwun  Mingyi,  Minister 
of  Foreign  Affairs,  than  she  found  herself  checkmated  in 
her  ambitious  designs  and  forced  into  the  position  of  an 
absolute  nonentity  by  her  daughter  Supayalat.  Master- 
ful to  a  degree,  ambitious,  and  jealous  in  every  possible 
way,  Supaydlat  very  soon  showed  that  she  intended  to 
domineer  over  her  lord  and  master  and  to  rule  the  palace, 
and  consequently  the  national  affairs,  without  permitting 
either  King,  Queen  Dowager,  or  Ministers  to  have  very 
much  to  say  in  the  matter.  And,  as  might  have  been  ex- 
pected with  such  a  woman,  her  opinions  and  actions  were 
far  more  influenced  by  the  brutal  and  ruffianly  Taingda 
Mingyi  than  by  any  of  the  more  reputable  of  the  nominally 
responsible  Ministers  of  the  King. 

The  political  situation  of  the  British  Resident  had  by 
this  time  become  unduly  strained.  The  treaties  in  force 
were  not  respected,  while  British  subjects  and  their  com- 
mercial interests  involved  in  Upper  Burma  were  wan- 
tonly injured,  redress  for  wrongs  being  tacitly  refused. 
Everywhere  throughout  the  country  affairs  had  run  riot, 
and  life  and  property  were  insecure. 

In  February,  1879,  Supayalat  had  obtained  Thibaw's 
consent  to  the  "  clearance  "  of  many  of  the  Princes  who 
were  of  political  importance,  though  no  conspiracy  of 
any  sort  was  on  foot.  On  the  15th,  i6th,  and  17th  men, 
women  and  children  of  royal  blood,  all  the  near  relatives 
of  the  King  and  the  Queen,  were  massacred  in  cold  blood 
at  Supayalat's  instigation,  prompted  by  the  Taingda 
Mingyi.  Neither  infancy  nor  old  age  afforded  protec- 
tion from  the  bloodthirstiness  suddenly  developed.  The 
aged  uncle  of  the  Nyaungyan  Prince,  an  old  man  stand- 
ing on  the  brink  of  the  grave,  who  had  been  Governor 
of  Pegu  in  1852,  was  among  the  victims,  but  these  also 

209  p 


included  children  of  the  tenderest  age.    Infants  were  even 

torn  from  their  mothers'  arms,  and  their  brams  dashed 

out  against  the  wall  before  their  parents'  eyes.     And 

"  all  this  was  effected  tinder  the  superintendeiice  of  the 

personal  followers  of  the  Kingl'  as  Mr.  Shaw,  the  British 

Resident,  reported  officially  to  the  Government  of  India 

The  women  and  children  were  buried  in  the  jail  yard 

within  the  palace  precincts,  but  eight  cartloads  of  corpses 

of  Princes  of  the  royal  blood  were  borne,  wrapped  in  red 

velvet  sacks,  through  the  "accursed"  western  gate  and 

thrown  into  the  river  Irrawaddy  according  to  precedent 

and  custom.      In  September  more  massacres  occurred, 

and  in  November  of  1879   they  were  continued,  as  all 

the  scions  of  the  royal  stock  had  not  yet  been  cut  off. 

Among  those  then  released  from  confinement  and  thus 

freed  from   their  present  human   incarnation    was   poor 

Supayagyi,  the  nominal  chief  Queen  by  virtue  of  haying 

been   the   Tabindaing  Princess   on    Thibaw's   accession. 

Apparently   all    along    in    love    with    the    Nyaungyan 

Prince,  and  maybe  the  one  who  sent  him  a  friendly  hint 

to  flee,  she  had  recently  attempted  to  administer  poison 

to  Thibaw    and    Supayalat,   her   own    half-brother    and 

sister.     But  failing  in   this  attempt  to  stop  bloodshed, 

butchery,  and  general  oppression,  she  had  to  pay  forfeit 

with  her  life ;  for  Supayalat  was  not  a  person  likely  to 

spare  even  her  own  sister  after  that  sort  of  crime. 

While  the  walls  within  the  inner  palace  enclosure  were 
thus  being  stained  red  with  royal  blood,  everything  was 
done  to  provide  mirth  and  amusement  for  the  citizens 
and  the  suburban  population,  and  to  distract  their  attention 
from  ruminating  over  the  reports  that  leaked  out  about 
the  carnage  going  on  within  the  palace.  These  reports 
could  not  be  stifled.  The  ghastly  procession  of  carts 
with  the  corpses  of  the  murdered  Princes  could  not  but 
tell  its  own  horrible  tale,  and  corpses  of  common  folks 
were  even  intentionally  exposed  to  public  view. 

Within  the  palace  the  state  of  affairs  was  desperate, 
and  Thibaw,  "the  Excellent  King  of  the  Rising 
Sun  and  Lord  of  the  White  Elephant,"  bullied  by  the 
termagant  Supayalat  and  no  doubt  horrified  by  the 
bloodshed  ordered  in  a  moment  of  terror,  or  of  alco- 



holic  excitement,  or  of  both,  was  probably  one  of  the 
most  miserable  of  all  the  men  within  his  kingdom,  for  at 
this  time,  though  he  had  been  a  Patama  Byan,  or  graduate 
with  the  highest  possible  honours  in  theology,  he  fell  far 
below  the  usual  standard  of  Burmese  Buddhists  with 
regard  to  abstinence  and  self-denial.  A  few  years  before 
he  had  attained,  as  a  novice,  the  highest  honours  at  the 
public  examination  in  religious  philosophy  held  annually 
in  the  Thudamd  hall ;  and  as  King  he  was  virtually  the 
head  of  Burmese  Buddhism.  Hence,  if  he  had  any 
belief  at  all  in  the  doctrines  enunciated  by  Gaudama,  he 
must  have  felt  convinced  that  in  the  next  state  of  exist- 
ence he  was  doomed  to  fearful  torments  in  one  of  the 
lowest  regions  in  hell.  No  wonder  he  was  dismayed 
and  despairing  about  his  future  existence,  as  well  as 
wretched  and  miserable  about  the  rung  he  now  occupied 
in  the  "  ladder  of  existence." 

So  he  lost  faith  in  everything.  Even  the  Weza  or 
soothsayer  in  whom  he  placed  most  confidence  fell  into 
disgrace  during  the  spring  of  1879,  was  degraded,  and 
had  to  flee  from  the  wrath  of  the  King,  while  the  attend- 
ant or  disciple  whom  he  left  behind  was  thrown  into 
prison.  On  his  flight  a  rival  soothsayer  of  Minhla,  near 
the  frontier,  boldly  declared  that  this  previously  much- 
honoured  personage  was  no  seer  at  all,  but  merely  a 
common  demon  who  had  been  enabled  to  assume  the 
form  of  a  man  by  means  of  the  arts  of  a  sorcerer ;  and 
this  sorcerer  was,  the  new  authority  affirmed,  no  other 
than  the  supposed  disciple  now  in  the  royal  prison.  So 
the  poor  unoffending  servant  was  executed  at  the  sug- 
gestion of  the  new  soothsayer,  who  also  strongly  advised 
a  change  of  capital  back  to  Amarapura.  But  this  was 
out  of  the  question,  for  obvious  reasons. 

Thibaw  became  almost  demented  with  terror  when  the 
British  Resident  withdrew  from  Mandalay  in  the  autumn 
of  1879.  Knowing  that  the  political  and  commercial 
courses  he  was  pursuing  must  sooner  or  later  bring  him 
into  conflict  with  the  Government  of  India,  he  suddenly 
developed  frenzied  proclivities  for  soldiering,  which  his 
Ministers  were  unable  to  check.  And  even  if  he  had 
recollected  sufficient  of  the  ancient  Jewish  Old  Testament 



history— for,  when  about  twelve  years  of  age,  he  was  sent 
to  be  taught  EngHsh  and  western  wisdom  at  the  Manda- 
lay  Mission  School  of  the  Society  for  the  Propagation 
of  the  Gospel— to  know  that  Jehosaphat  was  promised 
the  throne  of  Israel  for  four  generations  because,  in 
slaughtering  the  seventy  sons  of  Ahab,  ''he  had  done 
that  which  was  right  in  the  sight  of  the  Lordl'  yet  he 
must  have  known  quite  well  that  that  piece  of  ancient 
history  could  hardly  be  considered  as  parallel  with  the 
massacre,  in  the  latter  part  of  the  nineteenth  century,  of 
about  four  times  as  many  innocent  victims  who  were  his 
own  nearest  relatives. 

So  the  state  of  affairs  within  the  heart  of  the  Golden 
City  was  dreadful.  Thibaw's  mother  appealed  to  the 
Dowager  chief  Queen,  beseeching  her  to  stay  the  ruth- 
less follies  of  Thibaw  and  Supayalat ;  but  in  vain.  Tlie 
royal  couple  were  now  quite  incapable  of  being  restrained, 
and  the  only  advice  they  seemed  to  listen  to  was  the 
fatal  promptings  of  the  ignorant  and  brutal  Taingda 
Mingyi,  urging  them  on  to  conflict  with  the  British. 

The  story  has  been  told  in  another  chapter  of  how 
political  and  commercial  matters  gradually  drifted  from 
bad  to  worse  within  the  golden  city,  and  how  intrigues 
with  foreign  powers,  and  blunt  refusal  to  submit  to  proper 
judicial  enquiry  certain  grave  charges  raised  against  an 
influential  trading  corporation,  ultimately  led  to  the  third 
Burmese  war  in  1885.  How  strange  it  was  that  the 
first  procession  which  Thibaw  and  his  Queens  made 
through  their  capital  was  when,  driven  in  a  cart  passing 
between  files  of  British  troops  and  furnished  with  a  guard 
of  honour  of  British  soldiers,  they  passed,  for  the  first 
time  since  the  summer  of  1878  and  for  the  first  time 
during  Thibaw's  reign,  through  the  Red  Gate  at  the  east 
side  of  the  palace  enclosure  and  were  conveyed  by  the 
southern  gate  of  the  golden  city  westwards  to  the  river 
bank  for  embarkation  on  board  the  Thooreah  ( Thuryd), 
"the  Sun" — appropriate  name  for  the  steamer  which 
was  to  bear  the  King  of  the  Rising  Sun  away  from  his 
dominions  into  lifelong  exile  in  a  foreign  land. 

While  thus  reaping  the  fruits  of  his  own  wickedness 
and  folly,  Thibaw  was  spared  the  deepest  indignity  of 



being  made  to  pass  through  the  "accursed"  western 
gate  of  the  city.  But  his  cup  of  bitterness  and  remorse 
was  full  enough  without  that,  although  the  degrading 
insult  of  being  forced  to  come  and  go  by  that  gate  had 
from  time  immemorial  been  thought  good  enough  treat- 
ment for  the  various  British  Envoys  and  Residents  who 
had  visited  any  of  the  capitals  of  the  kingdom  of  Burma 
during  the  previous  century  and  a  quarter. 


chapter   IX 


AT  the  end  of  1899,  for  the  first  time  in  her  history, 
Burma  was  absolutely  free  from  organized  dacoity  ; 
not  a  single  dacoit  gang  was  known  to  be  in  existence 
within  the  boundaries  of  the  province.  Before  that, 
although  the  main  efforts  for  the  pacification  of  Upper 
Burma  could  be  considered  as  crowned  with  success  by 
the  end  of  1890,  it  was  not  to  be  expected  that  all 
trouble  was  then  at  an  end.  There  still  remained  a 
great  deal  to  be  done  among  the  frontier  tribes  inhabit- 
ing the  forest-clad  hills  all  round  the  northern  borders 
marching  with  Siam,  China,  Assam,  Manipur,  and 

Early  in  1891  the  chiefs  of  the  Shan  States  01 
Wuntho  and  Kale,  lying  west  of  the  Irrawaddy  and 
west  of  the  Chindwin,  conspired  with  a  view  to  a 
general  rising  along  with  Manipur,  and  the  Wuntho 
Sawbwa  broke  into  open  rebellion.  Both  were  deposed, 
and  their  States  were  incorporated  into  the  existing 
districts  of  Upper  Burma. 

In  the  Chin  hills  raids  continued  to  occur,  which 
necessitated  the  infliction  of  severe  punishment  on  the 
Kanhdw  and  Baungshe  tribes.  In  1891  many  of  the 
Chin  chiefs  were  brought  down  to  Rangoon  to  be 
shown  the  wonders  of  civilization,  and  the  power  and 
extent  of  British  rule  ;  but  some  of  them  were  so  little 
impressed  thereby  that  they  broke  into  revolt  soon  after 
their  return  to  the  fastnesses  within  their  native  hills. 
Columns  were  therefore  sent  to  explore  and  subjugate 
the  whole  of  the  Chin  tracts,  levying  and  fixing  tribute, 
recognizing  or  appointing  tribal  chiefs,  releasing  slaves 



kidnapped  in  raids,  imposing  fines  or  burning  con- 
tumacious villages  wherever  necessary,  and  opening  out 
mule  tracks.  The  only  real  difficulties  encountered  by 
the  military  were  the  physical  obstructions  offered  by  the 
mountainous  nature  of  the  densely  forested  country 
operated  in  ;  for  the  rainy  season,  during  which  opera- 
tions had  to  be  suspended,  came  early  and  was  late  of 
ceasing,  so  that  an  expedition  could  seldom  complete  its 
work  effectively  during  one  short  field  season.  Thus, 
when,  in  October,  1892,  the  Siyin  and  Nwengal  tribes 
revolted,  and,  ambushing  a  party,  killed  a  Burmese 
magistrate  and  eleven  of  his  men,  operations  promptly 
taken  at  a  cost  of  casualties  exceeding  seventy  on  the 
British  side  crushed  the  rebellion  :  but  the  operations 
had  to  be  continued  in  the  following  open  season  before 
the  rebel  leaders  were  all  captured  and  the  tribes 
thoroughly  disarmed  and  subjugated.  This  was,  how- 
ever, effected  in  due  time,  and  the  Chin  hills  were 
brought  under  the  jurisdiction  of  a  political  officer 
stationed  at  Faldm.  In  all,  about  7,000  guns  were 
taken  from  the  tribesmen.  In  1894  a  battalion  of 
military  police  was  substituted  for  the  military  garrison 
of  the  northern  posts,  and  in  1896  a  similar  change  was 
effected  in  the  Southern  Chin  hills ;  while  the  increased 
security  for  life  and  property  was  naturally  accompanied 
by  an  expansion  of  trade  and  greater  freedom  of  inter- 
course with  the  adjacent  districts  on  the  plains. 

Among  the  Kachin  tribes  much  also  remained  to  be 
done.  Early  in  1891  the  Kaukkwe  valley  was  quieted, 
and  a  post  was  established  at  the  Jade  Mines,  while 
columns  were  also  sent  south-eastwards  from  Bhamo  to 
reduce  to  order  the  wild  tribes  dwelling  in  the  forests 
north  of  the  Shweli  river.  To  the  north-east  of  the 
Bhamo  district  nothing  had  yet  been  done  to  bring  the 
hill  tribes  under  control ;  but  repeated  outrages  com- 
mitted by  the  Kachins,  the  Alsatian  character  that  this 
tract  had  acquired  as  a  refuge  for  outlaws  and  bad 
characters,  and  the  necessity  of  preventing  the  importa- 
tion into  Burma  of  illicit  opium,  liquor,  and  arms  from 
Yunnan,  involved  operations  being  undertaken  in  the 
open  seasons  of  1891--92  and   1892-93.     As  the  result 



of  these  expeditions,  some  of  which  met  with  consider- 
able resistance,  strong  posts  of  military  police  were 
established  along  the  Chinese  border  at  Namkhan  on 
the  Shweli  river,  and  northwards  at  Nampaung,  Sima, 
and  Sadon,  or  Fort  Harrison,  as  the  last  was  called  after 
an  officer  who  defended  it  with  great  gallantry  when  the 
small  garrison  there  was  besieged  by  a  large  number  of  ' 
Kachins.  After  the  military  operations  civil  officers 
moved  about  the  hills  with  moderate  escorts,  collecting 
tribute,  settling  disputes,  and  meeting  with  little  or  no 

In  1894  the  policy  to  be  adopted  in  the  Kachin  hills 
was  definitely  fixed.  The  point  where  the  Malikha 
("good  water")  and  the  Maikha  ("bad  water")  join  to 
form  the  Irrawaddy  river,  about  twenty- five  miles  north 
of  the  flourishing  new  town  of  Myitkyina,  was  taken  as 
the  northern  limit  of  active  administration,  which  was  to 
include  all  the  tracts  lying  south  of  the  Maikha  to  the 
east  of  the  Irrawaddy,  on  its  left  bank,  and  on  the  right 
bank  all  the  country  lying  south  of  a  line  drawn  from  the 
confluence  of  the  Malikha  and  the  Maikha  westwards 
through  the  northern  limit  of  Labdn,  including  the  Jade 
Mines.  So  long  as  the  tribes  to  the  north  of  this 
administrative  boundary  abstained  from  raiding  into  the 
tracts  south  of  it,  it  was  notified  to  them  that  they  would 
not  be  interfered  with.  In  order  to  carry  out  this 
scheme  a  new  district,  Myitkyina,  was  formed  in  1895, 
while  the  Kachin  Hill  Tribes  Regulation  was  passed  to 
legalize  the  procedure  previously  in  force,  and  was 
extended  to  various  hill  tracts  throughout  the  northern 
districts.  Since  then  the  establishment  of  law  and 
order  has  proceeded  regularly  and  satisfactorily,  and  con- 
siderable progress  has  even  been  made  in  the  extremely 
difficult  matter  of  settling  disputes  between  Kachin 
tribes  on  different  sides  of  the  frontier  line  separating 
Burma  from  China. 

Throughout  the  northern  and  the  southern  Shan 
States  satisfactory  advances  continued  to  be  made  in  the 
matter  of  introducing  more  orderly  methods  of  adminis- 
tration than  had  previously  been  in  force.  During  the 
open  seasons  of  1890-91  and   1891-92   the  two  Super- 



intendents  were  busy  with  the  work  of  revenue  in- 
spection and  house-counting^,  with  a  view  to  making 
better  arrangements  for  the  assessment  of  tribute,  in 
bringing  the  distant  State  of  Manglun  under  regular 
control,  and  in  visiting  Kengtung  with  a  view  to  placing 
matters  there  on  a  satisfactory  footing — for  the  young 
Sawbwa  was  proving  far  from  amenable  to  the  control  of 
the  Superintendent.  In  1891  the  customary  law  of  the 
Shan  States  was  modified  by  a  short  and  simple  set  of 
rules  designed  to  serve  the  purpose  of  Penal  and 
Criminal  Procedure  Codes  among  a  primitive  people. 
In  1892-93  the  demarcation  of  the  boundary  between 
the  southern  Shan  States  and  Siam  was  accomplished 
satisfactorily  as  far  north  as  Kengcheng,  the  Siamese 
Commissioners  working  in  perfect  accord  with  the 
Superintendent ;  while  in  the  northern  States  an  ex- 
pedition was  made  into  the  wild  Wa  country.  In  the 
following  year  a  partial  demarcation  was  made  of  the 
boundary  between  Kengtung  and  Kengcheng,  an  assistant 
political  officer  was  stationed  at  Kengtung,  and  steps 
were  taken  to  promote  cordial  relations  between  that 
State  and  the  Siamese  tracts  on  its  borders.  As  affairs 
in  Kengtung  continued  unsatisfactory,  it  was  in  1894-95 
reduced  from  occupying  a  position  of  subordinate  alliance 
with  British  India  to  precisely  the  same  status  as  the 
other  Shan  States,  a  small  garrison  was  established  at 
the  capital,  and  it  was  connected  with  Fort  Stedman  by 
a  telegraph  line  and  by  a  mule  track  capable  of  being 
used  throughout  the  year.  The  young  Sawbwa,  who 
had  married  a  daughter  of  the  Thibaw  Sawbwa,  died  in 
1895;  and  the  State  of  Kengtung,  which  had  recently 
been  enlarged  by  the  m- Mekong  districts  of  Kengcheng, 
was  provisionally  placed  in  charge  of  the  late  chief's 
brother  till  the  succession  could  be  decided.  The  Keng- 
cheng territories  thus  attached  to  Kengtung  accepted  the 
new  situation  loyally,  and  the  partition  of  the  State  to 
the  west  of  the  Mekong  river  led  to  no  difficulties 
with  the  French,  who  thereby  became  our  neighbours. 
Cordial  relations  were  maintained  with  Siam,  and  there 
was    no    trouble    with    the    Chinese   of   Kenghung  and 

Mong  Lem. 



The  maintenance  of  peace  and  order  and  the  abroga- 
tion of  tolls  were  already  bearing  fruit  in  a  considerable 
expansion  of  trade  throughout  the  Shan  States.  In 
1894-95  the  southern  Shan  States  exports  and  imports 
amounted  to  over  /36,666,  having  more  than  doubled 
themselves  within  the  last  year  or  two,  and  the  several 
chiefs  were  beginning  to  take  an  intelligent  interest  in 
the  development  of  the  resources  of  their  States. 
Among  other  reforms  introduced,  the  financial  arrange- 
ments of  the  States  were  placed  on  a  sound  footing. 
Budget  estimates  were  drawn  up  and  revenue  registers 
kept  in  specific  forms ;  unauthorized  demands  were  not 
to  be  made  ;  and  the  inhabitants  of  each  village  or  circle 
were  to  know  exactly  how  much  they  were  required  to  pay. 

In  May,  1895,  Sir  Frederick  Fryer,  who  had  acted  as 
loaim  tenens  from  23rd  May,  1892,  to  2nd  May,  1894,  and 
had  substantively  succeeded  Sir  Alexander  Mackenzie  in 
the  Chief  Commissionership  of  Burma  on  3rd  April, 
1895,  held  a  durbar  at  Taunggyi,  to  which  the  head- 
quarters of  the  Superintendent  had  recently  been 
removed  from  Fort  Stedman.  Here,  for  the  first  time, 
chiefs  from  all  parts  of  the  southern  Shan  States,  from 
the  territories  beyond  the  Salween,  as  well  as  from  cis- 
Salween  tracts,  and  all  the  chiefs  of  Karenni  came 
together.  Early  in  1896  he  also  held  durbars  at  Tiddim, 
Falam  and  Hdka  in  the  Chin  hills.  Many  of  the  more 
important  of  the  Shan  chiefs,  as  well  as  a  number  of 
Chin  chieftains  from  the  western  mountain  range,  had 
also  been  present  at  the  durbars  held  in  Rangoon  and 
Mandalay,  when  Lord  Lansdowne  visited  Burma  towards 
the  end  of  1893,  before  laying  down  his  viceroyalty. 
Representative  Kachin  chiefs  from  all  parts  of  the 
northern  hills  had  also  been  presented  to  His  Excellency 
at  Bhamo. 

Throughout  the  whole  of  the  more  setded  and  the 
regularly  administered  portions  of  the  province  a  steady 
advance  was  being  made  such  as  had  characterized  the 
province  of  British  Burma  before  the  annexation  of  the 
kingdom  of  Ava.  The  decennial  census  taken  on  the 
night  of  26th  February,  1891,  was  carried  out  over  the 
whole   province   without   difficulty   or  disturbance,   and 


CENSUS    OF    1 89 1 

probably  afforded  a  fairly  accurate  record  of  the  popula- 
tion. The  enumeration  gave  a  total  of  8,098,014  souls, 
of  whom  4,658,627,  occupying-  869,132  houses,  were  in 
Lower  Burma,  3,063,426  in  Upper  Burma,  and  375,961 
in  the  northern  and  southern  Shan  States.  The 
population  of  Lower  Burma  had  increased  from  2f 
millions  in  1872,  to  nearly  3f  millions  in  1881,  and  4% 
millions  in  1891  ;  but  the  maximum  and  the  minimum 
density  of  population  were  both  to  be  found  in  Upper 
Burma,  with  178  to  the  square  mile  in  Mandalay 
district  and  only  5*23  to  the  square  mile  in  the  wild 
forest  district  of  the  Upper  Chindwin.  A  not  incon- 
siderable share  of  the  increase  in  Lower  Burma  was  due 
to  immigration  from  India,  especially  from  Madras,  and 
from  Upper  Burma,  from  which  large  numbers  fled  during 
the  troublous  times  following  the  annexation ;  but  now 
that  the  northern  portion  had  been  brought  into  a  settled 
condition,  emigrants  to  Lower  Burma  flocked  back 
across  the  frontier  to  secure  to  themselves  the  rights 
to  the  land  which  they  had  formerly  possessed.  The 
removal  of  restrictions  on  trade  and  liberty  now  also 
operated  naturally  to  check  the  stream  of  emigration 
from  Upper  Burma,  while  the  abolition  of  exemption 
from  capitation  tax  formerly  granted  to  the  newly- 
arrived  immigrant  into  Lower  Burma  assisted  in  the 
same  direction. 

When  Lord  Lansdowne  in  November  and  December, 
1893,  paid  a  viceregal  visit  to  Burma,  towards  the  close 
of  the  tenure  of  his  high  ofiice,  it  was  practically  decided 
that  the  position  and  importance  of  the  province  was 
such  as  to  render  necessary  its  transformation  from  a 
local  administration  to  a  local  government.  After  the 
first  Burmese  war  the  ceded  sea-board  provinces  of 
Arakan  and  Tenasserim  were  administered  by  Commis- 
sioners, and  after  the  annexation  of  Pegu,  in  1852,  the 
new  territory  was  also  placed  under  another  Commis- 
sioner until  it  had  been  reduced  to  order  and  quietude. 
On  31st  January,  1862,  these  three  commissionerships 
were  amalgamated  and  formed  into  a  local  administration 
called  British  Burma,  Lieut. -Colonel  (afterwards  Sir 
Arthur)  Phayre    being  made    Chief  Commissioner  and 



Agent  to  the  Governor- General  in  Council.  It  was  then 
placed  on  the  same  level  as  the  Central  Provinces  of 
India  ;  but,  from  early  in  the  seventies,  the  exceptional 
importance  of  Burma  as  a  local  administration  was  shown 
by  the  fact  that  the  ablest  among  the  coming  men  in 
India  were  sent  to  administer  the  province.  The  first 
two  Chief  Commissioners,  Colonels  Phayre  and  Fytche, 
were  members  of  the  Indian  Staff  Corps;  but,  from  1873 
onwards,  the  appointment  was  filled  only  by  covenanted 
members  of  the  Beno^al  Civil  Service.  The  roll  of  Chief 
Commissioners  included  successively  the  men  who 
achieved  Indian  fame  as  Sir  Ashley  Eden,  Sir  Augustus 
Rivers  Thompson,  Sir  Charles  Aitchison,  Sir  Charles 
Bernard,  Sir  Charles  Crosthwaite,  and  Sir  Alexander 
Mackenzie.  All  of  these, — with  the  exception  of  Sir 
Charles  Bernard,  the  breakdown  of  whose  health  under 
the  strain  of  the  troublous  times  immediately  before  and 
after  the  annexation  of  Upper  Burma  prematurely  termi- 
nated his  brilliant  Indian  career, — after  holding  charge  of 
Burma,  were  subsequently  promoted  to  seats  on  the  Vice- 
regal Council  and  to  lieutenant-governorships  of  Bengal, 
the  Punjab,  or  the  North- West  Provinces. 

That  the  province,  now  greatly  increased  by  Upper 
Burma,  and  the  Shan  States,  stood  on  quite  a  different 
plane  from  the  other  local  administrations  under  the 
Government  of  India,  and  involved  under  higher  responsi- 
bilities than  the  other  chief  commissionerships,  had  been 
previously  acknowledged  by  raising  the  pay  of  the  ap- 
pointment from  50,000  rupees  to  80,000  rupees  (^^3,333 
to  £s>33Z)  P^J"  annum,  thus  giving  it  emoluments  equal  to 
those  drawn  by  members  of  the  Viceregal  Council,  and 
by  granting  to  Burma  the  practical  status  of  a  local 
government  with  regard  to  powers  of  sanction  and  the 
control  of  financial  matters  in  various  departments  of 
Government.  Financial  pressure  intervened,  however, 
to  prevent  the  Government  of  India  from  taking  the 
necessary  steps  towards  moving  the  Secretary  of  State 
to  sanction  the  transformation  of  the  chief  commissioner- 
ship  into  a  lieutenant-governorship,  and  to  have  the 
necessary  legislation  carried  through.  It  was,  there- 
fore,  not  until    ist  May,    1897,   that   Burma   became  a 



lieutenant-governorship,  having  a  separate  Government 
and  a  Legislative  Council  of  its  own. 

The  first  Lieutenant-Governor,  Sir  Frederick  Fryer, 
had  originally  been  sent  down  from  the  Punjab  to  Upper 
Burma  in  1886,  as  soon  as  it  had  been  decided  to  incor- 
porate the  kingdom  of  Ava  with  the  British  possessions, 
and  bring  it  under  direct  administration.  After  filling 
for  some  time  a  divisional  commissionership,  he  had 
been  selected  for  the  financial  commissionership  on  that 
appointment  being  formed  in  June,  1888,  but  had  subse- 
quently returned  to  his  old  province,  the  Punjab.  From 
May,  1892,  to  May,  1894,  he  had  officiated  as  Chief- 
Commissioner  during  the  absence  of  Sir  Alexander 
Mackenzie  on  long  leave  to  Europe,  and  on  3rd  April, 
1895,  he  had  substantively  succeeded  to  the  appointment, 
after  acting  for  some  time  as  a  member  of  the  Viceregal 
Council.  For  a  term  of  five  years  from  May,  1897,  the 
province  now  became  assured  of  an  administrator  who 
had  a  much  more  intimate  knowledge  of  the  province 
and  its  people  than  had  been  brought  to  the  task  of 
government  by  any  of  his  predecessors  since  the  days 
of  the  two  military  proconsuls,  Phayre  and  Fytche. 

At  the  head  of  the  Administration  is  the  Lieutenant- 
Governor,  who  exercises  the  powers  of  a  local  govern- 
ment in  respect  of  all  the  territories  forming  the  province 
of  Burma  as  constituted  by  the  Upper  Burma  Laws 
Act,  1886,  and  who  exercises  political  control  over  the 
wild  tribes  of  the  Chin  hills  and  over  Karenni,  a  small 
independent  State  in  subordinate  alliance  with  the  British 

The  disposal  of  Secretariat  business  is  conducted  by 
three  departments  controlled  by  a  Chief  Secretary,  a 
Revenue  Secretary,  and  a  Secretary,  together  with 
Under  Secretaries.  From  these  various  departments 
business  is  transmitted  by  the  Secretary-in-Charge  for 
the  orders  of  the  Lieutenant-Governor;  but  in  place  of 
proceeding  back  direct  to  each  department,  the  boxes  of 
records  filter  through  the  Chief  Secretary,  who  is  thus 
kept  in  constant  touch  with  what  is  passing  in  the  other 
two  departments,  and  has  the  opportunity  of  making  any 
suggestions  which  may  occur  to  him. 



The  various  secretaries  and  the  heads  of  departments 
have  each  a  specified  morning  for  waiting  upon  His  Honour 
the  Lieutenant-Governor,  while  in  residence  at  the  head- 
quarters of  Government,  Rangoon,  for  reporting  upon 
current  business,  and  receiving  his  instructions  as  to  its 
disposal.  Other  responsible  officials  who  have  no  fixed 
days  for  discussion  of  business  can  always,  when  necessary, 
arrange  for  a  special  interview  through  the  Private 
Secretary.  Once  a  week,  at  noon,  officials  at  large  are 
afforded  an  opportunity  of  bringing  before  His  Honour's 
notice  any  matters  in  which  they  are  personally  interested  ; 
for,  of  course,  apart  from  personal  matters,  the  official 
communications  of  subordinate  officers  with  the  Local 
Government  must  proceed  through  the  prescribed 
channel,  the  head  of  the  department  and  the  Secre- 
tariat. A  Private  Secretary  and  an  Aide-de-Camp 
assist  the  Lieutenant-Governor  in  the  transaction  of 
business  which  does  not  pass  through  the  Secretariat, 
and  in  the  arrangements  for  the  social,  the  sumptuary, 
and  the  ceremonial  duties  attached  to  this  highest  office 
in  the  province.  Like  all  Orientals,  the  Burmese  love 
ostentation  and  ceremonial  observances  not  only  on  public 
occasions,  but  even  in  the  every-day  routine  connected 
with  the  high  officials  ruling  over  them.  In  this  respect 
it  is  far  easier  for  a  mistake  to  be  made  in  the  way  of 
omission  than  by  paying  strict  attention  to  ceremonial 
and  official  display. 

For  legislative  purposes  connected  with  the  province 
the  Lieutenant-Governor  is  assisted  by  a  Legislative 
Council  consisting  of  nine  members,  five  of  whom  are 
appointed  by  him  as  official  members,  and  the  remaining 
four  are  non-official  members,  selected  from  among 
merchants  and  others.  Bills  affecting  local  requirements 
passed  by  this  Council  became  law  on  receiving  the 
sanction  of  the  Governor- General,  without  being  re^rred 
to  the  Indian  Legislative  Council;  though,  of  course, 
the  functions  of  the  Council  are  limited  strictly  to  purely 
provincial  matters. 

Owing  to  differences  in  legislative  status,  the  primary 
administrative  division  of  Burma  is  into  Lower  Burma, 
and   Upper   Burma  (including  the  Shan   States).      Ex- 



elusive  of  the  Shan  States,  Upper  Burma  is  a  scheduled 
district.  While  the  law  in  force  there  is  being  gradually 
assimilated  to  that  applied  in  Lower  Burma,  there  are 
still  considerable  divergrences.  For  the  executive  ad- 
ministration  of  the  province,  exclusive  of  the  Chin 
hills  and  the  States  on  the  Shan  plateau,  there  are  eight 
Commissioners  of  Divisions,  under  whom  are  the  thirty- 
six  Deputy  Commissioners  in  charge  of  districts.  As 
throughout  India,  the  district  forms  the  real  unit  of 
administration  in  Burma.  The  thirty-six  districts  are 
divided,  for  judicial  and  revenue  purposes,  into  eighty-one 
subdivisions,  held  by  Assistant  Commissioners  and  extra 
Assistant  Commissioners;  and  these  again  consist  of 
townships,  each  under  a  Myo  Ok  or  "  town  magistrate," 
forming  the  smaller  units  of  regular  civil  and  revenue 
jurisdiction.  Lower  Burma  is  divided  into  four  com- 
missionerships,  including  twenty  districts,  with  thirty-nine 
subdivisions ;  while  Upper  Burma  also  has  four  com- 
missionerships,  comprising  sixteen  districts,  with  forty- 
two  subdivisions. 

The  chief  civil  officer  ranking  next  in  position  and 
authority  below  the  Lieutenant-Governor  is  the  Financial 
Commissioner.  He  is,  subject  to  the  control  of  the 
Lieutenant-Governor,  the  Chief  Revenue  Authority,  and 
also  undertakes  the  duties  of  Chief  Customs  Autho- 
rity, Inspector-General  of  Registration,  and  Commis- 
sioner of  Excise  and  Stamps.  His  most  important  work 
is  connected  with  land  revenue  and  agriculture,  in 
which  he  is  assisted  by  a  Settlement  Commissioner,  two 
Secretaries,  and  a  Director  of  Land  Records  and  Agricul- 
ture, with  a  Land  Records  Departmental  Staff. 

As  the  methods  of  collecting  the  land  revenues  and 
the  system  of  survey  and  settlement  are  elsewhere 
described  (in  the  chapter  on  "  Land  Tenure  and  the 
Revenue  Settlement")  no  details  need  here  be  given 
concerning  these  matters. 

During  the  official  year,  1899- 1900,  the  collections 
of  civil  revenue  in  the  departments  controlled  by  the 
Financial  Commissioner  amounted  to  ;^2,878,298,  and 
it  exceeded  this  two  years  earlier.  The  principal  item 
towards  this  total   is  the  land  revenue  proper  of  Lower 



Burma  yielding  ;^928,488,  while  customs  bring  in 
^643,318.  Except  when  years  of  scarcity  occur  in  the 
dry  central  zone  of  Upper  Burma,  the  Thdthamddd  or 
house  tax  yields  over  ;/^ 390,000,  while  the  capitation  tax 
in  Lower  Burma,  assessed  at  five  rupees  a  head  for 
married  men,  three  rupees  for  widowers,  and  two  rupees 
for  adult  bachelors,  brings  in  nearly  ^300,000,  levied 
from  considerably  over  one  million  men.  Exemptions 
from  payment  of  this  latter  tax  have  to  be  made  when 
calamities  occur  locally  from  flooding  of  crops  or  other 
causes,  and  on  the  average  over  a  hundred  thousand 
persons  are  thus  exempted  annually.  The  incidence  of 
assessment  connected  with  land  revenue  levied  directly  or 
indirectly  cannot  be  correctly  stated.  The  incidence  of 
land  revenue  per  acre  of  cultivated  land  is  just  over 
two  rupees  (2^.  8^.)  in  Lower  Burma,  while  it  is  close 
upon  two  rupees  in  Upper  Burma,  or  between  three 
and  four  rupees  (45'.  to  ^s.  4d.)  per  head  of  population 
in  the  tracts  assessed.  Fisheries  in  Lower  Burma,  chiefly 
in  the  /u  or  "  lakes  "  formed  throughout  the  low-lying 
deltoid  tracts  after  the  summer  monsoon  floods  have 
receded,  realize  from  ^120,000  to  over  ^130,000 
annually.  They  are  usually  disposed  of  by  auction, 
being  let  for  several  years  to  tenants  who  manufacture 
on  a  large  scale  the  Ngapi  or  salted  fish,  the  national 
condiment  eaten  with  curry  and  rice.  This  dainty, 
beloved  by  the  Burmese,  is  a  loathsome  and  evil-smelling 
moist  preparation  of  fish,  pickled  and  pressed  with  coarse 
salt;  and  it  is  very  largely  imported  along  with  Nga- 
chdiik,  or  sun-dried  fish,  into  Upper  Burma  and  the  Shan 
States,  where  the  supply  of  salt  is  not  so  favourable  as 
throughout  Lower  Burma.  Opium,  imported  from 
Bengal,  though  also  grown  by  the  Shans  in  Upper 
Burma  and  the  Shan  States,  brings  in  over  ^180,000, 
and  excise  (including  salt)  over  ^190,000.  Rents  from 
State  lands  in  Upper  Burma,  the  old  "  royal  fields," 
bring  in  upwards  of  ^131,000,  while  nearly  ^100,000 
more  are  classified  as  miscellaneous  land  revenue.  By 
far  the  greater  portion  of  this  latter  sum,  over  four-fifths 
of  it  in  fact,  is  realized  from  Upper  Burma,  on  account 
of  revenue   from   fisheries,  water   rates   from    irrigated 



tracts,  and  royalties  from  the  Ruby  Mines  and  from  the 
petroleum  wells  of  Yenangyaung  and  its  vicinity. 
Stamps  produce  an  income  of  nearly  ^130,000,  and 
income  tax  ^70,000,  of  which  one-fourth  consists  of 
deductions  from  the  salaries  of  officials.  With  the 
exception  of  the  town  of  Mandalay  and  of  civil  officers, 
residents  in  Upper  Burma  are  exempt  from  the  operation 
of  this  unpopular  tax,  which  might  well  be  remitted  for 
all  that  it  brings  in.  Officials  in  any  case  might  be 
exempted,  for  Burma  is  admittedly  the  most  expensive 
province  to  be  stationed  in,  and  the  days  of  exceptionally 
rapid  promotion  in  any  of  the  civil  departments  are  now 
at  an  end  ;  nor  are  they  likely  to  return  again  till  some 
further  political  move  takes  place  like  the  Administra- 
tion of  Yunnan,  or  the  Protection  of  Siam. 

Traffic  in  opium  is  regulated  by  the  Opium  Regulations 
of  1894.  As  a  general  rule  the  possession  of  opium  in 
any  part  of  Burma,  except  for  medical  purposes,  is 
forbidden  to  Burmese ;  but  those  who  have  become 
habituated  to  the  drug  were  permitted  to  register  them- 
selves as  opium  consumers,  for  the  purpose  of  getting 
certificates  authorizing  them  to  obtain  and  possess  the 
drug  in  small  quantities.  The  registration  of  such 
Burmese  opium  consumers  was  carried  on  from  Feb- 
ruary, 1893,  to  the  end  of  June,  1894,  when  the  registers 
were  closed.  Since  the  latter  date  no  Burmese  have  been 
registered  except  such  as  can  show  sufficient  cause  for 
the  omission  of  registering  themselves  while  the  registers 
were  open,  such  as,  for  example,  absence  from  Burma 
during  the  period  allowed  for  registration.  Persons  of 
other  than  Burmese  race  are  permitted  to  possess  opium 
in  small  quantities. 

Concurrently  with  the  registration  of  Burmese  opium 
consumers  a  census  of  non- Burmese  consumers  was  also 
taken,  and  the  twofold  data  thus  obtained  were  used  as 
a  basis  for  making  a  rough  estimate  of  the  total  quantity 
of  opium  annually  required  to  supply  the  requirements 
of  those  legally  entitled  to  purchase  and  possess  opium. 
On  this  basis  the  maxima  quantities  of  opium  are  fixed 
which  may  be  issued  to  the  twenty-six  retail  vendors 
licensed  in  different  parts  of  the  province.     These  opium 

225  Q 


shops  are  mostly  in  Lower  Burma.  Those  in  Upper 
Burma  are  only  in  the  chief  towns,  and  along  the  frontiers, 
where  they  are  absolutely  required  to  meet  the  needs  of 
non- Burmese  consumers.  Even  with  these  arrangements 
illicit  opium  traffic  is  rife  along  the  northern  frontier,  for 
opium  is  grown  largely  by  the  Shans  and  much  more 
largely  still  throughout  Yunnan.  The  retail-vend  licences 
are  sold  by  public  auction  in  the  Deputy  Commissioner's 
court,  and  are  entirely  in  the  hands  of  Chinamen.  The 
licensed  vendor  may  from  time  to  time  obtain  from  the 
Government  Treasury  as  small  supplies  of  opium  as  he 
pleases,  but  the  total  quantity  to  be  supplied  to  him 
during  the  year  must  not  exceed  the  estimated  maximum. 

As  many  opium  consumers  live  in  places  remote  from 
any  licensed  retail  shop,  steps  have  been  taken  to  provide 
such  persons  with  the  means  of  obtaining  opium  legally 
by  permitting  the  sale  of  opium  at  the  Government 
Treasury  by,  or  in  the  presence  of,  a  gazetted  officer  to 
those  permitted  by  law  to  possess  opium.  Previous  to 
April,  1894,  the  maximum  quantity  of  opium  permitted 
to  be  possessed  by  any  individual  consumer  was  ten  tolas 
(3f  ounces),  but  this  was  then  reduced  to  three  tolas  (i-|- 
ounces),  and  the  possession  of  opium  by  Burmese  doctors 
and  tattooers  for  professional  purposes  was  legalized. 
Early  in  1896  the  price  of  Bengal  opium  was  raised  by 
one  rupee  per  sir  (2^  lb.),  and  the  duty  on  Chinese  and 
Shan-Chinese  opium  by  two  rupees  a  viss  (3'65  lb.). 
To  defeat  a  combination  of  Chinamen  the  retail  shop  at 
Tavoy  was  closed,  and  retail  sales  were  made  to  legal 
consumers  from  the  Treasury.  Stringent  measures  are 
everywhere  taken  to  prevent  opium  smuggling,  and  the 
Opium  Regulations  have  been  framed  and  worked  so  as 
to  prevent  Burmese  from  becoming  consumers  of  the 
drug ;  but  it  is  still  doubtful  if  the  consumption  of  opium 
has  really  been  diminished  by  the  restrictive  measures 

The  Commissioners  of  Divisions  are  responsible  to 
the  Lieutenant-Governor  for  the  working  of  every  de- 
partment of  the  public  service,  except  the  Military 
Department  and  the  branches  of  the  Administration 
directly  under  the  control  of  the  Imperial  Government. 



They  are  also  ex-officio  Sessions  Judges  in  their  several 
divisions,  and  have  civil  powers  under  the  Lower  Burma 
Courts  Act,  1889,  and  Upper  Burma  Civil  Justice  Regu- 
lation, 1886,  in  addition  to  powers  as  revenue  officers 
under  the  Land  and  Revenue  Act,  1876,  and  the  Upper 
Burma  Land  and  Revenue  Regulation,  1889.  The 
Commissioners  of  the  Mandalay  and  the  Meiktila  divi- 
sions, in  Upper  Burma,  also  supervise  certain  of  the 
minor  Shan  States  adjoining  the  eastern  boundaries  of 
their  divisions. 

The  Deputy  Commissioners  perform  the  functions  of 
District  Magistrates,  District  Judges,  Collectors  and 
Registrars,  and  the  various  miscellaneous  duties  which 
fall  to  the  real  unit  representative  of  Government.  Each 
has  not  only  his  own  special  and  onerous  duties  as  a 
judge  in  civil  and  criminal  cases,  and  as  the  chief 
authority  in  revenue  matters,  but  he  has  also  the  control 
of  the  Police,  the  Public  Works,  and  the  Forest  business 
throughout  his  district ;  for  it  is  laid  down  that  the 
District  Superintendent  of  Police,  the  Executive  En- 
gineer, and  the  Deputy  Conservator  of  Forests  are  the 
assistants  of  the  district  officer  in  their  special  depart- 
ments. There  is  practically  nothing  whatever  connected 
with  the  administration  from  which  the  unfortunate 
Deputy  Commissioner  escapes  responsibilities,  some 
nominal,  but  others  real  and  heavy,  either  by  direct  pro- 
visions of  the  Acts  or  Regulations,  or  else  by  some 
resolution  or  executive  order  of  Government.  Even  if 
the  day  were  to  consist  of  forty-eight  hours  in  place  of 
merely  twenty-four,  and  if  he  could  toil  incessantly 
throughout  the  whole  of  these  day  after  day,  it  would  be 
next  to  impossible,  except  in  a  few  of  the  lighter  district 
charges,  for  the  Deputy  Commissioner  to  do  personally, 
in  anything  like  a  satisfactory  and  conscientious  manner, 
the  multifarious  duties  prescribed  for  him.  And,  of 
course,  the  tendency  always  is  to  increase  these  in  place 
of  lightening  the  burdens  already  put  upon  him. 

Burma  is  a  non-regulation  province,  that  is  to  say,  the 
Commission  is  recruited,  as  in  the  Punjab  and  the 
Central  Provinces,  by  young  covenanted  civilians  ap- 
pointed from  England,  by  the  selection  of  young  military 



officers  from  the  Indian  Staff  Corps,  and  by  the  nomina- 
tion of  others  not  belonging  to  any  covenanted  or  com- 
missioned service;  whereas  in  the  regulation  provinces 
of  Bengal  and  the  North- West  Provinces  appointments 
are  now  limited  solely  to  the  members  of  the  Indian 
Civil  Service. 

Before  the  annexation  of  Upper  Burma,  the  Burma 
Commission  consisted  of  62  officers,  but  its  strength  was 
gradually  raised  to  123  by  the  end  of  1889.  Prospects 
of  promotion  in  the  Burma  Commission  are  now  less 
favourable  than  in  any  of  the  other  provinces,  as  the 
Commissioners  and  Deputy  Commissioners  are  all  com- 
paratively young  men.  This  is  the  natural  result  of  the 
floodtide  of  promotion  which  set  in  after  the  annex- 

The  Myo  Ok  or  township  officer  is  the  ultimate  repre- 
sentative  of   Government  who    comes    into  direct   and 
close  personal  contact  with  the  people.     Below  these  in 
the  towns  there  are  headmen  of  wards   and  elders  of 
blocks,  an  arrangement  of  recent  origin  and  modelled  on 
the   Upper  Burma  village   system ;    while   in  the   rural 
tracts  the  village  headmen  are  assisted  in  Lower  Burma 
by   SHngaung    or   rural    policemen    in    charge   of    ten 
houses,  and  in   Upper  Burma  by  elders  of  various  de- 
signations.    In  Lower  Burma  the  village  system  is  in  a 
state  of  transition.     Up  till   1889  the  collection  of  land 
revenue  and  capitation  tax  was  entrusted  to  Taikthugyi 
or  headmen  of  revenue  circles,  each  comprising  several 
villages,  and  the   headman   was    remunerated    by    com- 
mission, fixed  according  to  a  sliding  scale,  on  the  amount 
of  revenue  collected  within  the  circle.      In  the  discharge 
of  his  revenue  work  and  of  various  miscellaneous  duties 
the    Taikthugyi    was    assisted    by    the    KyMangyi    or 
village  headman   ("tax  collector")  and  by  rural  police- 
men {YazawiU-Gaung^y  each  of  whom  was  in  charge  of 
several  villages.     Under  this  system  it  was  found  that 
the   village   headman    had    gradually    degenerated    into 
something  little  better  than  a  village  drudge.     To  im- 
prove matters  the  Lower  Burma  Village  Act  was  passed 
in   1889,  with  a  view  of  bringing  affairs  more  in  a  line 
with  the  village  system  which  had  been  so  successfully 



retained  in  Upper  Burma  as  being  most  in  accordance 
with  the  national  customs  and  character  of  the  Burmese. 
While  the  TaiktJmgyi  are  being  gradually  abolished 
and  the  office  of  YazawiU-Gaiing  has  been  done  away 
with,  the  position  of  the  village  headman  has  been  re- 
habilitated by  making  him  a  collector  of  revenue,  giving 
him  power  to  decide  petty  civil  and  criminal  cases,  and 
securing  for  him  the  assistance  of  rural  policemen  subor- 
dinate to  his  authority.  In  Upper  Burma  the  village 
headmen  {Yivci  TJmgyt)  had  always  been  associated  with 
the  collection  of  revenue. 

The  judicial  administration  has  only  recently  been 
improved  by  the  formation  of  a  High  Court  for  Lower 
Burma.  When  Lord  Lansdowne  visited  Burma  in  1893, 
strong  representations  were  made  by  the  mercantile 
community  and  the  Bar  concerning  the  establishment  of 
a  High  Court  for  Burma.  It  was,  however,  at  that  time 
decided  that  the  matter  was  not  one  of  the  most  urgent 
needs  of  the  province.  During  Lord  Elgin's  tour  in 
Burma,  in  November  and  December,  1898,  the  subject 
was  once  more  considered,  and  with  more  favourable 
results.  Proposals  for  a  High  Court  could  not  be  enter- 
tained, as  this  would  have  necessitated  legislation  by  the 
English  Parliament.  But  the  establishment  of  a  Chief 
Court  for  Burma,  to  consist  of  a  chief  judge  and  three 
puisne  judges,  two  being  barristers  and  the  other  two 
members  of  the  Indian  Civil  Service,  has  been  sanctioned 
by  the  Secretary  of  State  from  ist  April,  1900. 

Previous  to  that  the  purely  judicial  officers  of  the 
province  had  been  the  Recorder  of  Rangoon,  the  two 
Judicial  Commissioners  for  Lower  Burma  and  for  Upper 
Burma,  the  Additional  Sessions  Judges  for  the  Pegu  and 
the  Irrawaddy  divisions,  the  Judge  of  Moulmein,  the 
Civil  Judge  of  Mandalay  town,  and  the  Judges  of  the 
Court  of  Small  Causes  in  Rangoon.  The  Recorder  was 
a  District  and  Sessions  Judge  in  the  town  of  Rangoon, 
and  a  High  Court  for  all  Burma  with  regard  to  criminal 
cases  in  which  European  British  subjects  were  accused. 
He  had  original  jurisdiction  in  all  such  civil  cases  in  the 
town  of  Rangoon  as  were  not  within  the  powers  of  the 
Court  of  Small  Causes.     In  civil  and  criminal   matters 



the  Judicial  Commissioners  exercised  the  powers  of  a 
High  Court  for  appeal,  reference,  and  revision  of  all 
cases  except  those  for  which  the  Recorder  was  the  High 
Court.  For  the  disposal  of  references  transferred  to  it 
by  either  the  Recorder  or  the  Judicial  Commissioner 
for  the  trial  of  such  original  cases  and  appeals  as  were 
transferred  to  it  by  the  Local  Government,  and  for  the 
decision  of  appeals  from  decrees  in  civil  cases  passed  by 
the  Judge  of  Moulmein,  a  "Special  Court"  might  be 
formed  at  Rangoon  by  the  sitting  together  of  the  Re- 
corder and  the  Judicial  Commissioner  of  Lower  Burma,, 
with  whom  might  also  be  associated  the  Judge  of  Moul- 
mein if  the  Local  Government  so  directed  in  any  par- 
ticular case.  In  practice  this  Special  Court  was  found 
to  be  a  poor  substitute  for  the  High  Court  required  by 

Within  the  limits  of  his  jurisdiction  the  Judge  of 
Moulmein  is  a  District  and  Sessions  Judge,  and  has  the 
powers  of  a  Civil  Court  for  the  adjudication  of  any  suit 
without  restriction  as  to  value.  The  Civil  Judge  of 
Mandalay  has  jurisdiction  in  all  civil  suits  arising  in 
Mandalay  town,  and  in  such  as  may  be  transferred  to  it 
from  the  district.  He  has  also  the  powers  of  a  Small 
Cause  Court  for  the  trial  of  suits  up  to  500  rupees 
(£33^)  in  value.  The  two  judges  of  the  Court  of  Small 
Causes  in  Rangoon  dispose  of  cases  up  to  the  value  of 
2,000  rupees  {£133^),  except  as  regards  cases  specially 
excepted  from  the  cognizance  of  such  courts.  At 
Rangoon,  and  in  some  of  the  other  large  towns,  there 
are  benches  of  honorary  magistrates  exercising  powers 
of  various  degrees.  In  the  different  military  canton- 
ments there  are  cantonment  magistrates. 

In  Upper  Burma  the  highest  court  is  that  of  the 
Judicial  Commissioner,  who  exercises  both  original  and 
appellate  jurisdiction. 

In  the  administration  of  the  Shan  States  a  successful 
experiment  has  been  tried.  Now,  as  under  the  King  of 
Ava,  the  Shan  uplands,  extending  over  more  than  forty 
thousand  square  miles  and  with  a  population  exceeding 
375,000,  are  divided  into  a  large  number  of  mutually 
independent  States,  each  ruled  by  a  Sdwbwa  or  Chief 



appointed  by  Government,  and  most  likely  to  become  an 
hereditary  appointment  whilst   good   management   con- 
tinues in  any  given  State.      Each  chief,  though  no  longer 
a  feudatory  but  a  British  subject,  has  the  power  of  life 
and  death,  together  with  an  almost  unlimited  authority 
in  the  internal  management  of  his  State,  so  long  as  this 
is  not  characterized  by  oppression,  or  cruel  and  barbarous 
practices.     Two  civil  officers,  called  Superintendents,  are 
posted    at    Taunggyi   in    the   south,  and    Lashi6  in  the 
north,  to  exercise  a  general  control  and  supervision  over 
the  chiefs,  their  administration,  and  their  relations  with 
each  other.     There  are  five  large  States  under  the  super- 
vision of  the  Superintendent,  Northern  Shan  States,  and 
thirty-nine  under  the  Superintendent  and  Political  Officer, 
Southern  Shan  States.     Certain  sources  of  revenue,  such 
as  teak  timber  and  minerals,  are  reserved   by  Govern- 
ment, as  in  the  time  of  the  kingdom  of  Ava ;  but  the 
extraction  of  timber  on  liberal  terms  is  permitted  to  the 
chiefs  in  whose  States  teak  forests  are  to  be  found.    The 
revenue  or  tribute  payable  by  each   State  is  fixed  at  a 
lump  sum,  being  assessed  roughly  on  the  basis  of  the 
number  of  houses.     The  chief  is  responsible  for  payment 
of  the  tribute,  which  he  can  easily  raise  without  resorting 
to  illegitimate  means. 

The  total  assessment  is  now  about  ^18,000,  as  com- 
pared with  a  demand  of  about  ^30,000  under  the 
Burmese  Kings.  But  there  is  this  difference,  that, 
whereas  in  1885  King  Thibaw  obtained  the  tribute  only 
from  a  few  of  the  States  adjacent  to  the  plains,  the 
whole  amount  now  comes  into  the  treasury  without  any 
difficulty  or  leakage. 

Tribute  is  paid  with  commendable  punctuality,  and  in 
many  instances  a  portion  of  it  is  remitted  in  considera- 
tion of  expenditure  on  works  of  public  utility,  such  as 
road-making.  A  simple  regulation  secures  attention  to 
ordinary  legal  forms  and  procedure,  and  debars  the 
infliction  of  excessive  or  cruel  punishments.  The  law 
thus  administered  in  these  States  is,  subject  to  the  exten- 
sion to  them  of  specific  enactments  in  force  in  the  rest  of 
Burma,  merely  the  customary  law  of  the  State  so  far  as 
it  is  in  accordance  with  justice,  equity,  and  good  con- 



science,  and  is  not  opposed  to  the  spirit  of  the  law  in 
force  throughout  the  rest  of  British   India. 

The  administration  of  the  chiefs  is  not  the  best 
possible;  but  it  is  at  once  cheap,  effective,  and  better 
suited  to  the  Shan  people  than  any  more  elaborate 
system  modelled  after  the  districts  in  charge  of  British 
officers.  There  is  very  little  crime  of  any  serious^  de- 
scription. The  principle  of  local  responsibility  is  strictly 
enforced.  When  the  offenders  in  a  serious  case  are  not 
detected,  the  State  in  which  the  crime  is  committed  has 
to  pay  compensation.  Communications  are  being  rapidly 
improved,  agriculture  is  flourishmg,  new  crops  like  wheat 
and  potatoes  have  been  successfully  introduced,  medical 
relief  and  vaccination  are  being  extended,  and  provisions 
are  being  made  for  veterinary  aid  and  the  training  of 
veterinary  assistants  in  the  cattle-producing  tracts. 
Though  they  can  hardly  be  regarded  as  altogether  an 
El  Dorado,  the  Shan  States  have  shown  remarkable 
improvement  under  British  rule,  and  present  a  fair  field 
for  future  development  agriculturally.  Internecine  war- 
fare has  ceased,  agriculture  is  spreading  normally  at  a 
quick  rate,  caravan  traffic  is  increasing  year  by  year,  the 
population  is  growing  quickly,  and  the  Shan  plateau  is 
now  traversed  by  a  railway.  The  short  record  of  the 
Shan  States  is  one  of  peace,  prosperity,  and  progress, 
which  will  continue  to  develop  rapidly  as  communications 
are  opened  out  by  means  of  railways  and  roads. 

The  administration  of  the  Chin  hills  on  the  north- 
western frontier  has  been  since  1892  in  charge  of  a 
political  officer  at  Faldm.  After  the  disarmament,  com- 
pleted in  1896,  of  the  numerous  and  powerful  hill  tribes 
inhabiting  these  mountain  tracts,  the  conduct  of  the  tribes- 
men remained  for  some  time  satisfactory,  and  a  partial 
re-issue  was  made  of  the  guns  called  in,  marked  guns 
being  given  to  licensees  on  a  scale  of  about  one  gun  for 
every  ten  houses  for  purposes  of  defence.  Serious  crimes 
were  now  for  some  time  of  seldom  occurrence,  raiding 
was  suppressed  along  the  whole  of  the  frontier,  and  there 
was  little  or  no  political  disturbance  within  the  hills 
themselves.  During  1897  and  1898,  however,  arms  were 
successfully  smuggled  in,   and  disarmament  had  again 




to  be  carried  out,  about  2,000  guns  being  seized  by  the 
end  of  May,  1899.  A  serious  rising  taking  place  in  con- 
sequence of  this,  the  garrison  in  the  hills  had  to  be  re- 
inforced ;  yet  on  the  whole  the  condition  of  the  Chin 
hills  is  as  satisfactory  as  frontier  districts  usually  are. 
Statistics  of  trade  with  the  valley  of  the  Chindwin  are 
wanting  ;  but  the  traffic  is  believed  to  be  increasing  con- 
siderably, while  the  Chins  have  begun  to  show  readiness 
in  providing  labour  for  transport  and  public  works.  The 
tribute  amounts  only  to  a  nominal  sum  of  about  ;;^  1,200, 
which  is  easily  levied.  The  Chin  hills  have  been  de- 
clared to  be  a  part  of  Burma  ;  but  they  constitute  a 
scheduled  district,  for  the  administration  of  which  a 
Regulation  was  passed  in  1896.  The  Political  Officer 
and  his  Assistant  are  invested  with  powers  to  enable 
them  to  keep  the  peace  and  to  exercise  supervision  over 
the  chiefs,  who  are  allowed  to  administer  their  affairs  so 
far  as  may  be  in  accordance  with  their  own  tribal  customs. 
Since  1897  the  Chin  hills  have  been  garrisoned  en- 
tirely by  military  police. 

The  Military  Garrison  of  the  province  had  been  reduced 
to  10,727  men  in  1898,  of  whom  4,234  were  Europeans, 
and  6,493  natives.  It  was  increased  again  to  12,309,  of 
whom  4,656  were  Europeans  and  7,653  natives,  during 
the  following  year,  but  has  fallen  again  to  10,324  in 
April,  1900(2,81 1  Europeans  and  7,513  natives).  Of  the 
latter,  seven  battalions  are  Burma  regiments  raised  for 
permanent  service  in  Burma  by  transformation  from 
military  police.  These  regiments,  consisting  of  Gurkhas, 
Sikhs,  and  Pathans,  are  distributed  throughout  the  Shan 
States  and  the  northern  part  of  Burma. 

The  Burma  district  command  forming  a  first-class  dis- 
trict, is  held  by  a  Major-General  directly  subordinate  to 
the  Lieut.-General  commanding  the  Madras  forces.  It  is 
divided  into  two  second-class  districts  held  by  Brigadiers- 
General  at  Rangoon  and  Mandalay,  while  the  native  regi- 
ment at  Kengtung  and  the  detachment  at  Fort  Stedman 
in  the  Southern  Shan  States  are  under  the  separate  com- 
mand of  a  Colonel  on  the  Staff.  The  total  cost  of  the 
garrison  during  1897- 1898  amounted  to  a  little  in  excess 
of  ;^ 60,000,  which  may  fairly  be  taken  as  about  the  normal 



cost  of  the  regular  troops  maintained  within  the  pro- 
vince, now  that  everything  is  tranquil.  In  addition 
to  these  regular  troops  there  are  close  upon  2,500 
efficient  volunteers  in  the  various  towns  and  on  the  rail- 
way lines,  who  form  a  valuable  addition  to  the  military 

The  Police  Department  had  a  force  of  13,545  civil 
police  and  15,667  military  police  in  1898,  costing  up- 
wards of  ;^530,ooo  a  year.  It  is  administered  by  an 
Inspector- General  of  Police,  assisted  by  Deputy  Inspec- 
tors-General for  Civil  Police,  Military  Police,  and  Police 
Supply  and  Clothing.  For  the  control  and  management  of 
the  executive  duties  of  the  civil  police  there  is  a  District 
Superintendent  of  Police  for  each  of  the  thirty-six  dis- 
tricts of  Burma,  while  fifty-nine  Assistant  Superinten- 
dents are  in  charge  of  the  more  important  subdivisions. 
The  special  duties  of  the  military  police  are  controlled 
by  twelve  Battalion  Commandants  and  twenty-seven 
Assistant  Commandants,  whose  services  are  lent,  for 
periods  of  five  and  two  years  respectively,  from  the 
Indian  Staff  Corps  for  this  specific  purpose.  The  Dis- 
trict Superintendents  of  Police  have  certain  magisterial 
powers,  but  in  all  essential  respects  they  are  directly  sub- 
ordinate to  the  Deputy  Commissioner  as  District  Magis- 
trate. Apart  from  political  uniforms  worn  by  members 
of  the  Government,  political  officers,  and  certain  ad- 
ministrative officers  having  political  duties,  the  police  is 
the  only  civil  department  in  Burma  whose  officers  are 
required  to  wear  a  uniform. 

The  military  police  is  in  reality  a  regular  military 
force  with  only  two  European  officers  in  command  of 
each  battalion ;  and  it  is  recruited  entirely  from  among 
the  warlike  races  of  northern  India,  with  the  exception 
of  a  small  battalion  of  between  six  and  seven  hundred 
men  raised  by  enlistment  from  among  the  Karens 
inhabiting  the  forest-clad  hills  throughout  the  central 
portion  of  Lower  Burma.  None  of  the  other  hill  tribes 
seem  to  be  suited  for  enlistment,  while  both  the  work 
and  the  discipline  of  this  special  branch  of  the  Police 
Department  are  unsuitable  for  the  Burmese.  At  Mo- 
gok,  in  the  Ruby  Mines  district,  Panthay  or  Yunnanese 



Mohammedan  recruits  were  enlisted,  but  proved  so 
unpromising  that  they  had  to  be  disbanded.  A  similar 
experiment  now  being  made  with  the  Kachin  hillmen 
may  perhaps  turn  out  more  successful. 

So  averse  is  the  Burmese  character  to  discipline  and 
control  in  petty  matters  that  it  is  impossible  to  get  really 
suitable  men  to  enlist  even  in  the  civil  police.  About 
twenty  per  cent,  of  the  whole  force  is  illiterate.  Training 
schools  have  been  established  in  nearly  every  district, 
where  recruits  are  grounded  in  their  future  work  before 
being  drafted  into  the  police  force.  A  feature  of  the 
civil  police  administration  is  the  maintenance  of  a  beat 
patrol  system,  one  of  the  principal  advantages  of  which 
is  that  it  enables  the  police  to  keep  in  touch  with  the 
village  headmen  in  rural  tracts,  and  with  the  headmen  of 
wards  and  elders  of  blocks  in  towns,  thus  enabling  in- 
formation and  assistance  to  be  given  by  these  at  a  mini- 
mum of  inconvenience. 

The  number  of  crimes  of  violence  in  1897  consisted 
only  of  540,  which  seems  a  remarkably  low  total  for  a 
population  then  probably  numbering  nearly  ten  millions. 
Of  these  no  less  than  seventy  occurred  in  one  district, 
Tharrawaddy,  which  has  ever  been  turbulent  and  inclined 
to  lawlessness.  Cattle  theft  is  common  (3,442  cases  occur- 
ring in  1899),  though  the  beat  patrol  system  helps  to  keep 
it  in  check. 

Persons  suspected  of  bad  livelihood  can  be  called  upon 
to  show  cause  why  they  should  not  be  made  to  furnish 
security  for  good  behaviour.  Of  4,574  such  cases 
brought  before  magistrates  in  1897,  3,660  were  actually 
called  upon  to  furnish  security.  The  provisions  of  the 
enactments  under  which  villages  can  be  fined,  or  have 
punitive  police  quartered  on  them  at  their  own  special 
cost,  for  harbouring  criminals  or  neglecting  to  take  due 
measures  for  their  arrest,  are  now  freely  used  in  Lower 
Burma,  with  the  result  that  much  is  now  done  by  vil- 
lage headmen  and  villages  to  assist  the  police  and  pre- 
vent anything  like  the  organization  of  crime.  In  the 
matter  of  ensuring  the  recognition  of  offenders  previously 
convicted  the  Bertillon  system  of  anthropometry  was 
formerly  in  use,  but  has  now  given  place  to  the  method 



of  identification  by  finger-prints,  the  police  being  charged 
with  the  duty  of  thus  identifying  criminals. 

The  control  of  the  Jail  Department  is  vested  in  an 
Inspector- General,  who  at  the  same  time  performs  the 
duties  of  Sanitary  Commissioner,  Superintendent  of  Vac- 
cination, and  Head  of  the  Civil  Medical  Department. 
The  two  central  jails  in  and  near  Rangoon  are  in  charge 
of  special  medical  officers  as  Superintendents  ;  but  in  all 
other  cases  the  Civil  Surgeon  at  the  headquarters  of  any 
district  is  ex-officio  Superintendent  of  the  jail  there. 
Thus  all  the  jails  throughout  Burma  are  in  charge  of 
officers  of  the  Indian  Medical  Service,  except  at  small 
stations  where  the  post  of  Civil  Surgeon  and  Superin- 
tendent of  Jail  happens  to  be  held  by  a  member  of  the 
subordinate  medical  service. 

In  Upper  Burma  there  were  no  regular  jails  till  1887, 
when  one  was  opened  at  Mandalay.  At  other  district 
headquarters  a  mere  lock-up  was  provided  for  the  ac- 
commodation of  prisoners,  and  large  numbers  of  escapes 
were  made  from  these  insecure  and  inadequate  buildings. 
A  scheme  was  afterwards  drawn  up  for  the  construction 
of  a  central  jail  holding  1,000  prisoners  at  Fort  Dufferin 
(Mandalay  city)  and  at  Myingyan,  with  smaller  jails  at 
other  district  headquarters.  At  that  time,  too,  the  jails 
in  Lower  Burma  became  overcrowded  and  liable  to 
dangers  of  epidemics.  After  the  wave  of  crime  rose,  in 
1885,  the  central  jail  in  Rangoon  became  chronically 
overcrowded  with  nearly  4,000  prisoners,  many  of  whom 
were  men  of  desperate  character.  The  pressure  on 
sanctioned  accommodation  was  partially  removed  in  1891 
by  the  release  of  over  1,500  men,  some  on  security,  and 
some  unconditionally,  who  had  been  convicted  during 
the  disturbed  times,  and  it  became  further  obviated  by 
the  opening  in  1892  of  a  jail  to  hold  2,000  prisoners  at 
Insein,  a  few  miles  to  the  north  of  Rangoon.  There  is 
total  jail  accommodation  throughout  the  province  for 
over  15,000  prisoners  distributed  over  seven  central  and 
twenty-five  district  jails,  and  the  average  daily  number 
in  prison  throughout  1899  was  12,547  (of  whom  12,416 
were  males,  and  only  1 3 1  females),  but  the  accommoda- 
tion, still  somewhat  insufficient,  is  being  enlarged.     To 



prevent  overcrowding  special  batches  of  long-term  con- 
victs are  from   time  to  time  sent  from  Rangoon  to  the 
penal  settlement  on  the  Andaman    Islands,  while,  since 
1895,  the  normal  annual  number  of  prisoners  transported 
to   the    Andamans  has    been    raised    from    75    to    200. 
Close  upon   18,000  convicts  were  committed  to  prison 
during  1897.      This  represents  the   enormous  proportion 
of  about  one  convict  to  every  550  of  the  total  population. 
Of  these  18,000  commitments   close  upon  one-sixth  were 
prisoners  charged  with   bad  livelihood,  nearly  3,000  of 
whom  were   imprisoned  for  failure  to  give  security  for 
good  behaviour.     In  committing  these  prisoners  to  jail  the 
courts  classified  altogether  3,227  as  "habitual  criminals," 
either  because   they  were  convicted  of  offences  punish- 
able with  three  years'  imprisonment  after  having  been 
previously  convicted  of  an  offence  similarly  punishable, 
or  else  because  they  were  believed  either  to  depend  on 
crime  as  a  means  of  livelihood  or  to  have  attained  pe- 
culiar  skill  in  crime.     Out  of  20,000  prisoners  committed 
to  jail   in    1896,    over  one-eighth    of  the   total  number 
committed  to  prison  confessed  to  the  habit  of  consuming 
opium,  and  more  than  nine-tenths  of  these  were  found  in 
the  prisons  of  Lower  Burma.     In  1899,  16,917  convicts 
were  sent  to  jail.     Of  these,  3,459  were  habitual  offenders, 
and  all  but  twenty-seven  of  them  were  identified  before 

Serious  outbreaks  in  any  of  the  jails  are  of  compara- 
tively rare  occurrence,  as  the  discipline  maintained  is 
distinctly  good.  Among  the  minor  punishments  inflicted 
for  breaches  of  discipline  are  the  treadmill,  shot  drill, 
and  the  loss  of  good  marks  leading  to  curtailment  of  the 
time  to  be  served.  Whipping  was  formerly  frequently 
inflicted,  but  is  now  had  recourse  to  only  in  compara- 
tively rare  cases,  when  exemplary  punishment  is  really 
necessary.  One  of  the  most  effective  punishments 
for  maintaining  discipline  is  solitary  confinement  with 
reduced  diet.  For  juvenile  offenders  a  reformatory  is 
attached  to  the  central  jail  at  Insein. 

As  the  sanitary  arrangements  of  the  jails  are  infinitely 
better  than  prisoners  have  previously  been  accustomed 
to,   the  health   of  the  jail   population   is    usually  good, 



although  the  larger  jails  from  time  to  time  become 
infested  by  the  obscure  forms  of  fever  and  other  kinds 
of  disease  peculiarly  liable  to  break  out  where  large 
numbers  of  men  are  confined  together  in  a  small  space. 
The  daily  average  number  of  sick  is  usually  about  forty 
per  thousand  of  the  average  strength,  and  the  death  rate 
is  ordinarily  only  about  eighteen  per  thousand.  In  1896 
the  death  rate  was  below  that  (i  7-93)  and  sixty  per  cent,  of 
the  prisoners  gained  in  weight  during  their  incarceration  ; 
but  in  1897  it  increased  to  twenty-four  per  thousand,  in 
consequence  of  cholera  breaking  out  in  three  jails  at  towns 
having  defective  water  supply.     It  was  1873  in  1899. 

The  gross  expenditure  on  jails  amounted  in  1899  to 
;^5 2, 506,  which  was  reduced  to  the  extent  of  ^22,200 
by  the  gross  cash  earnings  from  work  done  by  the 
convicts.  This  reduced  the  cost  per  head  from  a  gross 
charge  of  £4.  35'.  per  annum  to  a  net  amount  of  ;C2  8j., 
while  it  does  not  take  into  consideration  prisoners'  labour 
employed  upon  jail  extensions  and  gardens.  A  garden 
is  attached  to  each  jail  for  providing  anti-scorbutic  vege- 
tables to  the  ordinary  prison  diet  of  curry  and  rice.  The 
jails  are  employed  to  the  fullest  possible  extent  in  meet- 
ing the  wants  of  Government  departments  in  furniture, 
clothing,  food,  and  other  articles  ;  and  the  problem  of 
finding  useful  and  remunerative  employment  for  the  ab- 
normally large  percentage  of  criminals  is  continually 
under  consideration. 

The  Public  Works  Department  is  under  the  control 
of  a  Chief  Engineer,  who  is  ex-officio  Secretary  to  the 
Lieutenant-Governor  in  that  department.  The  admin- 
istration is  carried  out  by  five  Superintending  Engineers 
in  charge  of  circles,  four  of  whom  have  charge  of  general 
works  such  as  roads,  buildings,  and  canals,  while  one  is 
specially  charged  with  the  irrigation  works  and  surveys 
throughout  the  central  dry  zone  of  Upper  Burma. 
Within  these  five  circles  the  works  are  in  charge  of 
twenty- three  Executive  Engineers  holding  divisions, 
assisted  by  Assistant  Engineers  as  subdivisional  officers. 
Appointments  to  the  Public  Works  Department  are 
mainly  made  from  the  Indian  Engineering  College  at 
Cooper's  Hill,  in  Surrey,  though  young  officers  from  the 



Royal  Engineers  and  the  pick  of  the  students  at  the 
Thomason  Engineering  College  at  Rurki,  N.W.  P.,  also 
receive  a  small  number  of  nominations.  The  subordi- 
nate service,  consisting  of  Sub-Assistant  Engineers  and 
Overseers  is  recruited  mainly  from  the  army  and  from 
the  lower  grade  engineering  schools  of  India. 

So  far  as  possible  the  circles  of  the  four  Superintend- 
ing Engineers  charged  with  general  works  are  conter- 
minous with  the  eight  civil  divisions  held  by  Commis- 
sioners, but  they  also  include  the  Shan  States  and  the  Chin 
hills.  In  like  manner  the  divisions  in  charge  of  Execu- 
tive Engineers  are  conterminous  with  the  one  or  more 
civil  districts  held  by  the  Deputy  Commissioners  to 
whom  they  are  in  certain  matters  directly  subordinate. 
Since  1894  all  military  works  except  the  special  defences 
of  Rangoon  have  been  transferred  from  the  Madras 
Military  Works  to  the  Local  Government. 

When  the  various  portions  of  the  province  came  under 
British  administration  the  only  means  of  communication 
were  the  tidal  creeks  of  the  delta,  the  rivers  and  their 
tributaries,  rough  jungle  paths,  and  the  temporary  cart- 
tracks  across  the  fields  when  once  the  crops  had  been 
reaped  and  harvested.  Anything  like  good  roads  did 
not  exist.  Perhaps  the  nearest  approach  to  highways 
was  the  ancient  Minlan  or  "  royal  road "  cleared 
through  the  jungle  following  the  two  belts  of  laterite 
running  north  and  south  along  both  sides  of  the  Pegu 
Yoma,  which  forms  the  watershed  between  the  Irra- 
waddy  and  the  Sittang  rivers.  Crossed  by  scores  of  large 
streams  and  smaller  watercourses,  it  could  only  be  used 
during  the  dry  season  ;  and  its  reputation  was  so  bad 
that  part  of  it  running  through  the  Tharrawaddy  district 
was  known  as  the  Tkakolan  or  "  thieves'  road."  Even 
down  to  1877,  after  Pegu  had  been  in  British  possession 
for  a  quarter  of  a  century,  there  were  exceedingly  few 
roads ;  and  none  of  these  were  complete  with  bridges 
and  metal.  The  only  important  trunk-road  bridged 
throughout,  though  not  metalled,  was  one  running  north 
and  west  from  Rangoon  to  Prome,  and  thence  on  to  the 
military  frontier  station  at  Thayetmyo.  Another,  going 
north-east   to    Pegu   and   then   turning    northwards   to 



Toungoo,  the  frontier  fort  on  the  Sittang  side,  was  un- 
bridged  at  all  the  larger  streams,  and  was  therefore 
only  a  fair-weather  track.  The  old  military  road  from 
Toungoo  to  Moulmein,  the  extension  of  the  trunk  road 
from  Chittagong  to  Akyab,  and  that  across  the  Arakan 
hills  from  Taunggup  to  Prome,  had  been  allowed  to  fall 
into  such  disrepair  that  they  could  hardly  any  longer  be 
called  roads. 

The  first  real  impetus  towards  the  construction  and 
the  proper  maintenance  of  fairly  good  metalled  roads 
was  felt  about  the  time  of  the  opening  of  the  Irrawaddy 
Valley  Railway  line  from  Rangoon  to  Prome  in  1877. 
The  necessity  for  feeder-roads  became  then,  of  course, 
at  once  apparent.  The  growing  wealth  of  the  agri- 
cultural population  and  the  rapid  extension  of  perma- 
nent rice  cultivation  throughout  all  the  central  portion 
of  Lower  Burma  necessitated  the  construction  of  roads 
to  enable  the  surplus  grain  of  land-locked  areas  to  be 
brought  within  easy  reach  of  the  rice  mills  at  Rangoon, 
Moulmein,  and  Bassein.  The  impulse  thus  given  to 
road  construction  has  never  been  relaxed.  After  the 
annexation  of  Upper  Burma  the  funds  for  road-making 
were  granted  much  more  freely  by  the  Government  of 
India  than  previously,  with  the  result  that  of  the  6,220 
miles  of  road  maintained  by  the  Public  Works  Depart- 
ment in  1900  more  than  one-half  are  in  the  northern 
portion  of  the  province. 

While  the  internal  requirements  of  the  country  are 
satisfied  as  fully  as  funds  permit,  the  Government  of 
Burma  are  anything  but  unmindful  of  the  desirability 
of  improving  existing  trade  routes  and  opening  up  new 
tracks  for  the  facilitation  of  traffic  and  commerce  with 
the  countries  beyond  the  frontiers  of  Burma.  More 
especially  with  regard  to  trade  routes  leading  eastwards 
into  Siam  and  Yunnan  the  Government  of  Burma  are 
doing  as  much  as  is  possible,  under  the  financial  limita- 
tions imposed  upon  them  by  the  Government  of  India, 
in  the  way  of  constructing  roads  and  caravan  tracks 
without  neglecting  the  more  immediate  and  pressing 
requirements  of  the  internal  portions  of  the  province. 
From   Myitkyina  to  Sadon,  and  from    Bhamo   up    the 



Taiping  valley  to  Loikaw,  roads  run  to  the  frontier, 
whence  the  tracks  converge  on  Momein.  Namkhan,  the 
frontier  mart  on  the  Shweli  river,  has  now  good  road 
connection  direct  with  Bhamo.  From  Myitson,  lower 
down  the  Shweli  but  separated  from  Namkhan  by  a 
long  and  unnavigable  stretch  of  rocky  obstructions,  a 
fair  cart-track  leads  to  Mong  Mit,  and  from  Mong  Mit  a 
good  mule-track  ascends  to  Mogok,  the  headquarters  of 
the  Ruby  Mines,  whence  a  good  cart-road  descends  west- 
wards to  Thabeitkyin  on  the  Irrawaddy  river,  while  an- 
other mule-track  trends  southwards  through  Mainglon 
to  Maymyo  and  Pyaunggaung  on  the  Mandalay-K union 
railway  line.  Running  parallel  to  this  line  of  railway  a 
good  fair-weather  road,  complete  as  to  bridges  or  ferries 
as  far  as  Lashi6,  a  distance  of  1 78  miles,  leads  from 
Mandalay  across  the  Northern  Shan  States  towards  the 
Kunlon  ferry  on  the  Salween  river ;  and  from  this  trunk 
road  feeders  extend  north  and  south  into  the  Shan 
country.  From  Thazi  on  the  Rangoon- Mandalay  rail- 
way line  a  cart-road  leads  eastwards  to  Fort  Stedman 
and  to  Taunggyi,  the  headquarters  of  the  Southern  Shan 
States,  and  for  seventy  miles  beyond  that  to  Napok, 
thus  bringing  the  whole  of  the  Southern  Shan  States  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Mong  Nai  (Mon^)  in  direct  com- 
munication with  the  railway  line.  And  when  Mong  Nai, 
in  the  course  of  a  few  years,  becomes  linked  up  with  the 
Mandalay- Kunlon  line  by  a  branch  railway  from  Thi- 
baw,  this  improvement  in  communications  is  certain  to 
be  immediately  followed  by  a  considerable  increase  in 
the  prosperity  of  the  States,  marked  as  the  progress  of 
these  has  already  been  since  the  Shan  country  came  under 
British  rule.  From  Napok  a  good  mule-track,  which  is 
gradually  being  improved  into  a  fair-weather  road, 
extends  eastwards  across  the  Kengkham  ferry  on  the 
Salween  to  Kengtung,  where  a  Burma  regiment  forms  the 
garrison  near  the  Chinese,  Siamese,  and  French  frontiers. 
Some  of  these  roads  have  proved  enormously  expen- 
sive. Thus  the  Ruby  Mines  cart-road  from  Thabeitkyin 
to  Mogok,  61 J  miles  in  length,  had  cost  considerably 
over  ;^6o,ooo  for  construction  and  maintenance  by  the 
end  of  March,  1894.     The  metalling  of  this  road  is  now 

241  R 


in  course  of  completion,  and  when  that  is  done  the  total 
cost  of  this  difficult  hill  road  will  be  close  on  ;^8o,ooo. 

The  actual  outlay  on  communications,  exclusive  of 
supervision  and  tools,  in  1899-1900  was  £i73>350' 
of  which  about  two-fifths  were  for  original  works  and 
three-fifths  for  maintenance. 

The  railways  in  Burma  were  originally  constructed  by 
a  special  (Imperial)  branch  of  the  Public  Works  Depart- 
ment; but  they  have,  since  ist  September,  1896,  been 
transferred  to  the  Burma  Railways  Company,  though  the 
workino-  of  the  open  line  was  carried  on  by  Government 
on  behalf  of  the  Company  till  February,  1 897.  The  total 
capital  expenditure  on  construction  up  to  31st  March, 
1898,  amounted  to  ^5,9 15,340,  of  which  ^5,127,860  had 
been  incurred  by  Government  before  the  Company  took 
over  the  railways  in  1896.  The  total  length  of  line  open 
to  traffic  on  31st  March,  1900,  was  993  miles.  Further 
consideration  need  not,  however,  here  be  given  to  rail- 
ways in  Burma,  as  they  form  a  subject  specially  dealt 
with  in  chapter  xvi. 

Among  the  principal  of  the  earlier  Public  Works  was 
the  construction  of  the  seven  lighthouses  erected  for 
the  protection  of  shipping  along  the  dangerous  sea-coast. 
One  of  these  unfortunately  had  an  insecure  foundation 
on  the  Krishna  shoal  off  the  middle  of  the  delta,  and 
consequently  disappeared  one  night  in  August,  1877. 
Another  of  the  greatest  of  the  Public  Works  was  the 
embankment  of  the  extreme  north-western  portion  of  the 
Irrawaddy  delta  by  a  bund  running  along  the  west  bank 
of  the  main  river  and  along  the  east  bank  of  its  offshoot 
the  Ngawun  river,  which,  after  flowing  past  Bassein, 
enters  the  sea  near  Cape  Negrais.  It  formed  an  A- 
shaped  embankment  running  with  a  cross  connection  for 
about  sixty  to  seventy  miles  along  each  bank  of  the  apex 
of  the  delta  on  the  western  side  of  the  Irrawaddy,  and 
was  designed  to  protect  the  land  in  the  upper  portion 
from  disastrous  floods  occurring  annually  in  July  and 
August.  The  embankment  was  completed  in  1878  at  a 
total  cost  of  nearly  ;^2  70,000;  but  the  results  realized 
have  hardly  been  as  good  as  were  anticipated.  When 
the  settlement  of  the  land  revenue  was  made    in   the 



Bassein  and  Henzada  districts,  in  1884,  it  was  found 
that  while  eighteen  square  miles  of  cultivated  land  were 
protected  by  the  embankment  nearly  130  were  not  pro- 
tected, and  of  this  area  about  fifteen  square  miles  (9,500 
acres)  had  been  thrown  out  of  cultivation  in  consequence 
of  the  operation  of  the  embankment. 

While  the  rice  lands  situated  in  the  delta  and  along 
the  sea- board  from  Cape  Negrais  to  the  Gulf  of  Mar- 
tabun  are  thus  liable  to  inundations  capable  of  some- 
times seriously  affecting  the  crops,  the  whole  of  the  cen- 
tral portion  of  Upper  Burma  is  exposed  to  considerable 
danger  from  drought,  unless  a  sufficiency  of  soil-moisture 
be  provided  by  irrigation. 

The  central  portion  of  Upper  Burma  naturally  forms 
a  dry  zone  comprising  the  whole  of  the  districts  of 
Myingyan  and  Meiktila,  together  with  portions  of 
Yamethin,  Magwe,  Minbii,  and  Pakkoku  on  the  south, 
and  of  Lower  Chindwin,  Sagaing,  Shwebo,  Mandalay, 
and  Kyaukse  on  the  north.  The  moisture-laden  winds 
coming  from  the  Bay  of  Bengal  during  the  summer 
months,  when  the  south-west  monsoon  prevails,  deposit 
the  great  bulk  of  their  moisture  either  on  the  Arakan 
hills  between  the  Irrawaddy  and  the  Bay  of  Bengal,  or 
on  the  Pegu  Yoma  between  the  Lower  Irrawaddy  and 
the  Sittang  River,  while  copious  rainfall  is  at  the  same 
time  provided  by  them  for  the  lower  portions  of  the 
valleys  of  these  two  rivers.  As  these  comparatively 
cool  winds,  saturated  with  moisture,  travel  northwards 
in  the  direction  of  the  dry  central  zone  their  tempera- 
ture becomes  gradually  raised  ;  consequently  their  rela- 
tive humidity  decreases  and  precipitations  of  rain  are 
less  frequent  and  less  abundant.  Thus,  from  a  rainfall 
of  between  200  and  250  inches  on  the  coasts  of  Arakan 
and  Tenasserim,  and  of  about  100  inches  in  Rangoon, 
the  precipitations  in  areas  lying  to  the  north  gradually 
become  less  till  the  dry  central  zone  is  reached,  within 
the  different  portions  of  which  the  average  annual  rain- 
fall varies  from  about  fifteen  to  thirty  inches.  North 
of  this  again,  throughout  the  hilly  and  densely  wooded 
districts  of  the  Upper  Chindwin,  Katha,  Ruby  Mines, 
Bhamo,  and  Myitkyina,  the    temperature  is  also  lower 



than  what  prevails  in  the  dry  zone  ;  consequently  the  re- 
*  lative  humidity  of  the  air  increases  once  more,  and  the 
result  is  frequent  copious  rainfall  varying  up  to  over 
ninety  inches.  During  the  winter  monsoon  season, 
when  the  winds  set  from  the  north-east,  the  rainfall 
throughout  Burma  is  not  much  affected,  the  inconsider- 
able amount  of  rainfall  due  to  this  particular  cause  being 
mainly  confined  to  the  thickly-wooded  northern  districts 
of  Myitkyina,  Bhamo,  and  the  Ruby  Mines. 

The  essential  climatic  features  of  this  central  zone  are 
therefore  a  high  summer  temperature,  with  strong,  dry 
winds  prevailing  from  April  till  October,  which  but 
infrequently  bring  up  rain-storms.  The  only  possible 
means  of  contending  against  these  natural  disadvantages 
of  geographical  position  throughout  the  great  central 
portion  of  the  Irrawaddy  valley  would  obviously  have 
been  to  preserve  large  tracts  under  forest,  in  order  to 
act  as  huge  natural  reservoirs  for  the  storage  of  soil- 
moisture  and  to  increase  the  relative  humidity  of  the 
air  for  the  benefit  of  agriculture.  These  scientific  pre- 
cautions were  naturally  enough  neglected  in  Burmese 
times.  Instead  of  being  preserved,  the  once  existing 
forests  throughout  the  dry  zone  have  been  destroyed, 
and  the  result  is  that,  to  climatic  features  already  un- 
favourable for  agriculture,  there  have  been  added  the 
physical  drawbacks  that  the  soil,  unprotected  by  forest 
growth,  gets  washed  away  during  heavy  rainfall,  and 
that  the  rain-water  is  not  retained  within  the  soil  for  the 
feeding  of  streams  and  the  effecting  of  other  results 
beneficial  to  agriculture.  Hence  only  irrigated  portions 
of  the  dry  zone  can  be  relied  on  to  yield  crops  with 
certainty  year  by  year ;  and  rice  cultivation  within  it  is 
confined  to  tracts  obtaining  a  good  supply  of  water  by 
means  of  irrigation.  Apart  from  such  more  favoured 
portions  the  food  crops  grown  by  the  peasantry  con- 
sist chiefly  of  maize,  millet,  and  peas,  whilst  cotton  and 
sessamum  are  also  raised  for  sale. 

As  a  net  result  of  these  climatic  disadvantages  and  of 
wasted  physical  features,  years  of  scarcity  are  of  fre- 
quent occurrence  in  this  dry  zone.  Seldom  does  any 
year  pass  without  complaints  of  want  in  some  part  of 



it.  In  several  of  the  years  since  the  annexation  the 
scarcity  has  been  so  great  and  widespread  as  almost  to 
verge  on  famine,  and  to  necessitate  the  commencement 
of  irrigation  works,  road-making,  and  railway  earthwork 
as  famine  relief  measures.  Actual  famine,  however,  is 
hardly  now  possible,  even  in  the  driest  parts  of  Burma, 
though  the  memory  of  the  Thaydwgyi  or  "  great  scar- 
city" which  occurred  in  1792,  during  the  reign  of  Bodaw 
Paya,  still  lives  in  tradition. 

In  olden  times  many  irrigation  schemes  had  been 
hatched,  and  some  of  them  were  even  undertaken  ;  but 
when  the  kingdom  of  Ava  was  annexed,  most  of  these 
works  had  long  since  been  allowed  to  fall  into  disre- 
pair, and  the  people  were  left  to  their  own  devices  as 
regards  the  storage  of  water  for  agricultural  and  other 
requirements.  The  chief  irrigation  systems  were  in 
the  Kyaukse  district  and  the  Salin  subdivision  of 
Minbu.  These  works  were  some  hundreds  of  years 
old,  but  it  was  hoped  that  much  could  be  done  in  the 
way  of  improving  them  by  draining  the  hollows  be- 
tween the  canals,  strengthening  the  weirs  and  main 
canals,  and  reducing  their  number,  improving  the  open- 
ings for  distributing  water  so  as  to  prevent  wastage, 
making  the  larger  canals  more  conveniently  navigable, 
and  bringing  a  much  larger  area  under  irrigation. 

As  soon  as  the  state  of  Upper  Burma  permitted  it, 
an  officer  of  the  Public  Works  Department  was,  in 
1890,  deputed  to  examine  and  report  on  the  existing 
irrigation  works  and  their  condition.  As  1891  and  1892 
were  years  of  great  scarcity  a  large  number  of  old  Bur- 
mese irrigation  projects  were  taken  up  and  put  in  order 
to  provide  work  for  the  distressed  agriculturists,  and  in 
the  Meiktila  and  Yamethin  districts  a  fair  amount  of 
work  was  done  in  the  way  of  making  tanks  and  weirs. 
In  1892  an  irrigation  circle  was  formed,  and  extensive 
works  were  commenced  in  the  Mandalay  and  Shwebo 
districts,  the  irrigation  canals  of  the  Kyaukse  district 
being  already  well  supplied  with  water  from  the  hills 
immediately  to  the  east.  These  were  followed  by  other 
large  works  in  the  Myingyan  and  Minbii  districts,  and 
by    improvements    in    the    existing   works  in  Kyaukse, 



Meiktila,  and  Yamethin.  The  Nyaungyan  Minhla  tank 
in  the  Meiktila  district  has  been  restored  at  a  cost  of 
^30,000,  and  the  Kyaukse  tank  in  the  Yamethin  dis- 
trict has  been  formed  at  an  outlay  of  over  ;^33,ooo  ;  while 
large  sums  were  spent  on  railway  earthwork  from  Meik- 
tila to  Myingyan  in  1897  as  a  special  famine  relief  work. 
This  has  now  been  open  to  regular  railway  traffic  since 
November,  1899. 

In  other  districts,  where  irrigation  can  take  place  by 
means  of  canals  fed  from  large  streams,  more  costly 
operations  have  been  undertaken  on  major  works.  These 
include  a  project  for  irrigating  72,000  acres  in  the  Man- 
dalay  district  at  a  cost  of  over  ;^  200,000 ;  another  in  the 
Shwebo  district  to  cost  more  than  ;^ 3  3 0,000,  and  irrigate 
130,000  acres,  together  with  other  works  in  the  Minbu, 
Mandalay,  and  Shwebo  districts  for  the  irrigation  of 
other  100,000  acres.  These  last  works  are  estimated 
to  cost  over  ^310,000,  of  which  nearly  ^^  180,000  have 
been  expended  between  1896  and  1900.  When  all  these 
schemes  have  been  carried  out,  about  420,000  acres  or 
close  upon  670  square  miles  of  land  will  by  irrigation  be 
capable  of  sustaining  permanent  cultivation  irrespective 
of  the  rainfall  upon  the  tracts  producing  the  crops. 

The  total  outlay  on  the  various  public  works  through- 
out Burma  during  the  last  five  years  has  averaged  more 
than  ^600,000  ;  and  the  new  territory  of  Upper  Burma 
has  very  properly  had  by  far  the  lion's  share  of  this  ex- 
penditure. It  amounted  to  ;/^623,485  during  1899-1900, 
exclusive  of  ;^i  17,648  for  payment  of  salaries,  etc.,  of 
Public  Works  officers. 

The  Forest  Department,  administering  the  enormous 
natural  wealth  represented  by  the  forests  of  Burma,  is 
controlled  by  four  Conservators  of  Forests,  two  in  Lower 
and  two  in  Upper  Burma,  whose  circles  are  conterminous 
with  the  civil  divisions  held  by  Commissioners,  while  the 
Shan  States  are  also  included  within  the  southern  circle 
of  Upper  Burma.  The  controlling  staff  consists  of 
thirty-six  Deputy  Conservators  of  Forests,  whose  divi- 
sions are,  so  far  as  possible,  conterminous  with  one  or 
more  civil  districts.  There  are  also  fourteen  Assistant 
Conservators  of  Forests,  most  of  whom  are  drafted  into 



divisional  charges, — consequent  on  the  inadequacy  of  the 
sanctioned  staff  to  cope  satisfactorily  with  the  constantly 
expanding  work  of  the  department, — as  soon  as  they  have 
qualified  for  this  by  passing  the  prescribed  examinations 
in  the  Burmese  language,  forest  law  and  procedure, 
and  land  revenue.  These  officers  form  the  Imperial 
branch  of  the  Indian  Forest  Service,  to  which  appoint- 
ments are  now  made  only  after  a  three  years'  course 
of  study  at  the  Indian  Engineering  College,  Cooper's 
Hill,  Surrey,  including  a  few  months'  instruction  on  the 
Continent.  The  provincial  branch,  or  Burma  Forest 
Service,  consists  of  nine  extra  Deputy  Conservators 
holding  minor  divisional  charges,  and  twenty-two  extra 
Assistant  Conservators  for  subdivisional  work.  They 
are  appointed  by  selection  from  among  the  senior 
Forest  Rangers,  most  of  whom  now  receive  their  first 
appointments  after  undergoing  a  two  years'  course  of 
training  in  the  Forest  School  at  Dehra  Dim,  N.W.P. 
The  Subordinate  Forest  Staff  consists  of  687  Forest 
Rangers,  Deputy  Rangers,  Foresters,  and  Forest  Guards 
on  salaries  ranging  from  twelve  to  one  hundred  and  fifty 
rupees  per  mensem.  Appointments  are  almost  entirely 
confined  to  natives  of  Burma.  A  Vernacular  Forest 
School  was  opened  during  1899  for  the  purpose  of  giving 
selected  junior  members  of  the  Subordinate  Staff  elemen- 
tary instruction  in  forestry  and  in  departmental  work  as 
it  is  done  in  beats  and  ranges. 

The  Conservators  of  Forests  are  responsible  for,  and 
have  complete  control  over,  all  professional,  depart- 
mental, and  financial  matters  throughout  their  circles, 
while  the  Deputy  Commissioner  is  responsible  for  the 
general  management  and  protection  of  all  the  forests 
in  his  district.  For  this  purpose  the  divisional  forest 
officer  is  the  Deputy  Commissioner's  assistant  in  all  forest 

As  compared  with  other  branches  of  the  Adminis- 
tration, the  Forest  Department  in  Burma  labours  under 
the  great  disadvantage  of  having  no  real  head  responsible 
for  controlling  the  whole  of  the  provincial  forest  affairs  and 
for  submitting  matters  direct  to  the  Lieutenant-Governor 
for  orders.     Each  of  the  four  Conservators  is  an  inde- 



pendent  head  of  department  in  matters  affecting  his 
own  circle ;  and  he  is  directly  responsible  to  the  Local 
Government,  with  which  he  communicates  through  the 
Revenue  Secretary.  For  all  matters  concerned  with 
questions  of  general  administrative  policy,  forest  settle- 
ments, contracts,  finance,  and  matters  of  routine,  the 
Revenue  Secretary  exercises  an  effective  control  over 
the  four  Conservators  ;  but  he  is  no  more  qualified  to 
criticise  or  to  advise  the  Lieutenant-Governor  on  purely 
professional  matters  connected  with  scientific  forestry 
and  technical  questions  than  he  would  be  to  scrutinise 
and  report  on  engineering  projects  submitted  by  the  heads 
of  circles  in  the  Public  Works  Department.  It  conse- 
quently often  occurs  that,  when  important  suggestions 
are  made  by  any  one  Conservator,  the  opinions  of  the 
other  three  are  taken  ;  and  if  it  should  happen  that  two 
are  for  and  two  against  the  proposals,  the  matter  is 
shelved  indefinitely. 

In  other  respects  efficient  and  economical,  the  Forest 
Department  will  never  be  on  a  really  sound  footing 
until,  like  the  Public  Works  Department,  it  has  a  Chief 
Conservator  of  Forests  controlling  the  administration  of 
the  four  Conservators  and  ex-officio  Secretary  to  Govern- 
ment for  the  disposal  of  forest  business.  A  department 
whose  gross  earnings  in  Burma  for  1 898-1 899  were 
^556,726,  and  showed  a  net  surplus  revenue  of  ;^399,256, 
can  surely  well  afford  the  creation  of  such  a  controlling 
administrative  appointment ;  and  to  refrain  from  creating 
it  now  is,  for  various  important  financial  and  technical 
reasons,  not  an  economy. 

The  work  of  the  Forest  Department  throughout  India 
has  been  much  abused  on  the  one  hand,  and  much  belauded 
on  the  other.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  work  of 
forest  conservancy,  so  essentially  important  for  Indian 
agriculture,  has  usually  to  be  carried  out  under  conditions 
imposing  unwelcome  restrictions  on  the  wasteful  and 
irrational  customs  which  formerly  prevailed.  In  Burma, 
however,  the  opposition  to  the  work  of  the  Forest 
Department  has  been  considerably  less  than  throughout 
most  of  the  other  parts  of  India.  District  officers  have 
on  the  whole,  and  more  especially  since  the  commence- 



ment  of  Sir  Charles  Bernard's  administration  as  Chief 
Commissioner  of  British  Burma  in  1879,  been  favour- 
able to  proposals  for  the  formation  of  reserved  forests 
selected  either  for  financial  or  for  other  economic  reasons. 
Men  who  formerly  scoffed  at  the  departmental  efforts 
made  for  the  formation  of  forest  reserves,  after  seeing 
the  swiftness  with  which  total  clearance  of  forest  growth 
can  be  accomplished  and  the  evils  following  as  its  result, 
have,  personally,  recently  urged  that  the  last  remnants  of 
the  forests  in  the  lower  delta  should  be  preserved  for 
timber  and  fuel  production.  Moreover,  Burma  is  at  once 
the  most  thickly  forested  and  the  most  thinly  populated 
province  in  India  ;  and  the  work  of  selecting,  settling, 
and  demarcating  the  forest  areas  set  apart  as  permanent 
reserves  could,  without  any  undue  pressure  on  the  people, 
be  carried  out  much  more  freely  in  the  thinly  populated 
jungle  tracts  than  would  have  been  possible  in  any  other 
province  of  India. 

The  careful  manner  in  which  existing  rights  of  the 
people,  even  of  nomadic  cultivators  practising  the  waste- 
ful system  of  Taungya  or  shifting  hill-cultivation,  are 
safeguarded  in  dealing  with  such  proposals  for  forest 
reservation  will  be  found  described  in  chapter  xvii. 
treating  of  Burma's  forest  wealth. 

The  reserves  already  sanctioned  up  to  the  end  of 
1 899-1 900,  aggregated  17,153  square  miles,  or  just  over 
ten  per  cent,  of  the  total  area ;  but  the  process  of  selecting 
reserves  will  continue  for  many  years  yet,  especially  in 
Upper  Burma.  Only  in  the  Hanthawaddy,  Pegu,  and 
Tharawaddy  districts  of  Lower  Burma  has  this  important 
work  been  completed,  where  about  two-thirds  of  the 
existing  forest-land  still  at  the  disposal  of  Government 
have  been  reserved.  Outside  these  reserves  enormous 
tracts  of  tree-forest  and  jungle  still  remain  for  clearance 
and  cultivation,  reservation  being  for  the  most  part 
confined  to  forest  land  unsuitable  for  permanent  self- 
sustaining  cultivation. 

Even  in  the  Shan  States  attention  is  now  also  being 
given  to  this  matter.  The  Sawbwa  of  Thibaw,  acting  on 
my  advice  in  1898,  requested  the  Local  Government  to 
depute  a  forest  officer  to  begin  the  work  in  his  State,  first 



of  all  by  the  examination  and  reservation  of  the  best 
teak-producing  tracts,  and  then  by  the  selection  of  other 
wooded  areas  to  be  reserved  for  reasons  more  particularly 
connected  with  the  absorption  and  retention  of  soil- 
moisture  for  the  benefit  of  agriculture  and  pasturage.  As 
the  early  result  of  this  prudent  policy,  the  Kainggyi 
Forest  Reserve  in  Thibaw,  the  first  created  in  the 
Northern  Shan  States,  was  constituted  during  the  official 
year  i 899-1 900. 

Notwithstanding"a  departmental  reorganization  in  1896, 
the  progress  of  forest  operations  is  much  hampered  by 
the  paucity  of  officers  of  all  ranks.  Classified  as  a 
"  ^^/^^/-commercial  department,"  the  Forest  Department 
is  worked  mainly  on  financial  principles  ;  and  the  increase 
in  the  number  of  administrative,  controlling,  and  executive 
officers  is  not  taking  place  pari  passu  with  the  rapid 
expansion  of  departmental  operations  and  of  the  hand- 
some revenue  resulting  therefrom.  Several  new  divisions, 
which  it  would  be  advantageous  to  create,  cannot  be  formed 
for  want  of  officers,  and  all  three  branches  of  the  forest 
service  will  soon  have  to  be  increased  unless  the  capital 
value  of  the  enormous  forest  wealth  contained  in  the 
province  is  to  remain  partially  unutilized  or  to  run  the 
risk  of  suffering  permanent  damage  by  neglect  of  the 
economic  possibilities  otherwise  attainable.  Even  as- 
suming, though  it  is  nothing  like  the  reality,  that  the 
whole  of  the  revenue-producing  teak  and  other  forest  pro- 
duce were  harvested  solely  from  the  reserved  areas,  this 
would  merely  indicate  an  average  annual  rate  of  growth 
far  less  than  should  be  obtained  under  intensive  treat- 
ment with  adequate  supervision.  The  ^399,256  of  net 
surplus  revenue  earned  in  1898-99  certainly  do  not 
represent  more  than  i  to  i  J  per  cent,  of  the  capital  value 
of  the  forests,  which  may  consequently  be  roughly  esti- 
mated at  from  ^30,000,000  to  ^40,000,000  ;  and  if  a 
fair  proportionate  share  of  the  net  earnings  were  to  be 
granted  annually  for  the  important  works  of  fire  protection 
of  reserved  forests,  for  improvement  fellings  for  the  benefit 
of  teak  and  other  valuable  trees,  and  for  cultural  operations 
m  connection  with  their  growth  and  development,  there 
would  be  every  probability  of  both  the  annual  returns 



and  the  capital  value  of  the  forests  increasing  consider- 
ably in  course  of  time.  A  property  of  this  sort  having 
a  present  actual  marketable  capital  value  of  at  least 
;^30,ooo,ooo  to  ^40,000,000  sterling  seems  worth  de- 
veloping and  improving  to  a  greater  extent  than  has 
hitherto  been  the  case. 

The  Ports  and  Customs,  under  the  Financial  Com- 
missioner as  Chief  Customs  authority,  are  administered 
by  a  Chief  Collector  of  Customs  at  Rangoon,  assisted  by 
an  Assistant  Collector  and  Superintendent  of  Preventive 
Service,  and  by  Collectors  at  the  ports  of  Moulmein, 
Bassein,  and  Akyab.  At  Rangoon,  through  which  eighty 
per  cent,  of  the  total  trade  of  the  whole  province  passes, 
there  are  a  Port  Officer  and  an  Assistant  Port  Officer ; 
but  at  the  other  ports  the  Collector  of  Customs  is  also 
Port  Officer.  The  total  value  of  the  sea-borne  trade  of 
Burma  amounted  to  ;^20,8 19,992  in  1899- 1900,  of  which 
about  two-fifths  were  imports  and  three-fifths  exports.  Of 
the  exports  over  ^4,000,000  worth  are  annually  shipped 
to  Europe,  the  principal  articles  being  rice,  teak  timber, 
cutch,  and  hides.  Internal  trade  between  Burma  and 
Siam,  Karenni,  the  Shan  States,  and  Western  China 
amounted  to  ^2,047,314  in  1 899-1 900.  Altogether,  the 
trade  of  the  province  (see  chapter  xiv.)  is  in  a  healthy, 
expansive  condition,  and  is  bound  to  develop  normally 
with  the  extension  and  ramification  of  the  railway  net 
and  the  increase  of  population  and  of  cultivation. 

The  Education  Department  is  under  a  Director  of 
Public  Instruction,  while  the  work  of  school  inspection  is 
carried  out  by  four  Inspectors,  assisted  by  numerous 
Deputy  Inspectors  and  Sub- Inspectors.  Formerly  edu- 
cation was  almost  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the  Pongyi  or 
"religious"  at  the  monasteries.  Lay  schools  existed 
here  and  there,  kept  by  old  men  leading  a  semi- recluse 
life  ;  but  these  were  few  and  far  between.  Every  male 
Burmese  has,  in  order  to  acquire  the  religious  qualification 
distinguishing  him  as  human  and  not  a  mere  brute,  to  wear 
the  yellow  robe  of  a  recluse  during  some  portion  of  his 
youth  ;  and  before  he  can  enter  a  monastery  as  a  Maung 
Shin,  or  acolyte,  he  has  previously  to  receive  instruction. 
As  this  has  always  been  the  case  from  time  immemorial, 



the  monasteries  became  the  national  schools  of  the 
country,  where  elementary  education  was  given  gratis  by 
the  monks  (or  religious  recluses,  to  speak  correctly),  who 
thereby  added  to  their  Kutho  or  "  religious  merit,"  the 
attainment  of  which  was  their  object  in  leading  the 
humble  mendicant  life  of  a  "  religious."  But  it  was  not  the 
custom  of  the  country  for  girls  to  receive  any  education 
of  this  sort.  As  no  woman  can  ascend  the  path  leading 
towards  Neikban  (Nirvana)  till  her  soul  has  become 
incorporated  in  the  body  of  a  man,  it  would  have  been 
premature  and  altogether  unnecessary  to  inflict  upon  her, 
or  endow  her  with,  even  elementary  education.  That 
would  all  come  naturally  in  due  time  when  once  such  an 
amount  of  merit  had  been  attained  by  her  good  works  as 
would  enable  her  to  revisit  this  world  in  the  shape  of  a 

When  a  small  boy  enters  the  Kyaung  or  monastery 
at  about  seven  or  eight  years  of  age,  he  is  given  a 
papier-mache  slate  [Parabdik),  or  a  blackened  wooden 
board  ( Thinbori)  shaped  like  the  pointer  of  a  roadway  sign- 
post, and  a  pencil  roughly  cut  from  steatite  or  soap-stone. 
These  Thinbon  are  usually  made  of  the  light  white  wood 
of  the  Yaman6  tree  (Gmelina  arbored).  On  his  board 
he  is  taught  to  write  the  vowels  and  the  consonants  of 
the  alphabet,  and  is  made  to  repeat  them  aloud  so  as 
to  imprint  them  on  his  memory.  Each  day  the  boards 
are  blackwashed  with  finely  powdered  moistened  char- 
coal, and  a  fresh  lesson  is  set.  Having  mastered  these 
foundations,  advances  are  gradually  made  to  simple 
combinations  of  letters,  and  then  to  more  complicated 
words  of  the  language. 

There  is  a  regular  stereotyped  gradation  from 
the  simplest  consonants  to  the  most  difficult  syllabic 
combination  in  Burmese  and  Pali  :  for  the  language  is 
monosyllabic,  and  in  words  apparently  consisting  of 
more  than  one  syllable  each  portion  is  separate  and 
complete  in  itself.  The  course  of  instruction  follows 
the  Thinbongyi  or  "  great  basket  of  instruction,"  beginning 
with  the  initial  letters  of  the  alphabet— A'^^^'/  ("  big  K  "), 
Kdgwd  ("  crooked  K  "),  etc.— and  gradually  proceeding  up 
to  the  most  involved  combinations  of  vowels  and  conson- 



ants.  The  alphabet  is  interesting,  as  the  consonants  have 
all  descriptive  names,  referring  mostly  to  their  shapes. 
Thus,  in  place  of  our  bald  A,  B,  C  to  X,  Y,  Z,  the  Bur- 
mese youngster  learns  to  know  his  letters  as  "  hump- 
backed B,"  "little  G,"  "pot-bellied  T,"  "elephant-fetter 
T"  (aspirated),  "capped  P,"  "water-dipper  D,"  and  the 
like,  so  that  the  mastering  of  the  alphabet  is  not  alto- 
gether uninteresting  and  unattractive.  Having  in  some 
cases  four,  including  aspirated,  forms  of  a  consonant 
almost  similar  as  to  sound  is,  however,  rather  a  draw- 
back to  its  easy  acquisition  by  the  adult  European.  It 
also  renders  correct  spelling  somewhat  difficult  in  the 
Burmese  vernacular. 

Repetition  is  the  basis  of  the  system,  and  the  boys 
intone  their  tasks  monotonously  over  and  over  again 
in  chorus  at  the  top  of  their  shrill,  high-pitched  voices. 
Morning,  noon  and  night  these  lessons  go  on  for  a 
considerable  time,  thrice  daily.  After  setting  the  daily 
tasks  the  monks  can  only  close  their  eyes  in  the  calm- 
ness of  soothing  meditation  while  the  Babel  of  young 
voices  keeps  up  in  full  cry.  Quietness  usually  means 
idleness  and  probably  mischief  on  the  part  of  the  boys, 
who  lie  face  downwards  on  the  floor  each  with  his 
own  slate  in  front  of  him  containing  the  task  for  reci- 
tation. But  for  this  discordant  chorus,  which  is  peculiarly 
irritating  about  five  o'clock  in  the  morning  and  again 
during  the  hottest  part  of  the  afternoon,  monasteries  are 
fairly  comfortable  places  of  residence  for  officers  on  tour, 
as  they  are  generally  cleaner  and  more  commodious  than 
any  other  buildings  in  the  jungle  villages.  No  matter 
how  small  it  may  be,  each  village  usually  supports  at  least 
one  monastery. 

This  gradual  progress  of  elementary  instruction  in 
reading  and  writing,  combined  with  very  simple  and 
rudimentary  arithmetic,  lasts  for  about  two  to  three 
years,  by  the  end  of  which  time  the  boy  is  able  to  read 
ordinary  manuscripts,  including  the  religious  books 
written  with  an  iron  style  on  dried  palm  leaves  cut  into 
strips  of  about  fifteen  inches  long  and  two  and  a  half 
inches  in  breadth.  These  palm-leaf  manuscripts  are 
formed  into  volumes  by  means  of  two  boards  of  teak- 



wood  of  similar  size,  usually  lacquered  in  vermilion  and 
often  richly  ornamented  with  designs  in  gold.  In  these 
books  the  leaves  are  kept  in  place  by  two  bamboo  pegs, 
which  pass  through  from  board  to  board,  the  leaves 
between  which  are  thus  impaled  and  kept  in  position. 
To  prevent  displacement  of  the  boards  the  whole  is  tied 
up  with  cords,  or  with  narrow  strips  of  cotton  into  which 
sacred  precepts  are  often  interwoven.  As  the  books 
read  in  the  monastery,  and  the  oral  instruction  given 
in  connection  therewith,  are  invariably  of  a  religious 
nature,  the  elementary  education  given  by  the  monks  is 
essentially  religious  in  its  character.  Religious  notions 
are  gradually  imbibed  by  the  young  pupils,  who  thus 
become  generally  acquainted  with  the  creed  of  Burmese 
Buddhism,  and  more  particularly  with  the  Zattagd 
(Jataka)  or  "  birth-stories "  relating  to  the  penultimate 
and  the  last  existences  of  Gaudama. 

When  the  British  came  into  possession  of  the  various 
parts  of  the  province,  this  simple  monastic  system  of  re- 
ligious education  prevailed,  and  it  still  exists  so  far  as  the 
monasteries  are  concerned.  There  were  certain  centres 
of  higher  instruction  in  Pali  and  religious  philosophy,  of 
which  Mandalay  was  latterly,  and  still  is,  the  chief :  for 
in  all  branches  religion  was  the  basis  of  the  nationaliza- 
tion of  gratuitous  education.  The  Patamd  Byan,  or 
highest  examination  in  Pali  and  philosophy,  was  held 
annually  at  Mandalay  until  the  overthrow  of  the  king- 
dom of  Ava  ;  and  it  has  been  reinstituted  by  Government 
since  1896,  although  at  first  the  proposal  met  with  some 
opposition  from  the  leading  monks  in  Mandalay. 

The  first  efforts  of  the  Government  to  improve  edu- 
cation on  systematic  lines  were  made  by  Sir  Arthur 
Phayre  in  1866.  For  centuries  back  Roman  Catholic 
missionaries  had  been  at  work  in  Burma,  and  early  in 
the  present  century  American  Baptists  also  began 
labouring  in  the  same  field,  to  which  they  were  followed 
by  the  servants  of  the  Society  for  the  Propagation  of 
the  Gospel.  These  missionaries,  who  taught  the  children 
of  converts  while  endeavouring  to  convert  adults,  had 
long  received  grants  in  aid  of  education,  but  nothing 
had  been  done  to  raise  the  level  of  education  among  the 



people  at  large  who  were  taught  by  the  monks.  No 
plan  had  any  chance  of  success  if  it  was  likely  to  inter- 
fere with  the  time-honoured  national  system  of  elemen- 
tary instruction,  or  if  it  tended  to  arouse  suspicion  or 
hostility  on  the  part  of  the  monks  or  the  people.  It 
was  therefore  decided  to  distribute,  to  such  monasteries 
as  would  receive  them,  elementary  works  on  arithmetic, 
geography,  and  land-surveying,  and  to  appoint  teachers 
to  go  round  and  assist  the  monks,  with  their  permission, 
in  teaching  the  new  wisdom  ;  while  a  Director  of  Public 
Instruction  was  appointed  to  supervise  the  work  of  the 
lay  teachers  and  report  on  its  progress. 

The  experiment  was  at  first  confined  merely  to  the 
principal  towns  ;  but  even  there  it  languished  so  much 
that,  in  1868,  it  was  proposed  to  supersede  it  by  the 
establishment  of  lay  schools.  Finally  it  was  decided 
that  both  systems  should  be  worked  simultaneously,  and 
gradually  both  monastic  and  lay  schools  were  brought 
on  a  similar  footing  under  the  supervision  of  the 
Educational   Department. 

The  general  scheme  of  education  which  thus  evolved 
itself  led  to  the  encouragement  and  development  of 
native  lay  and  monastic  schools,  partly  by  lending 
assistant  masters  trained  in  Rangoon,  partly  by  payments 
of  grants  in  aid  or  rewards  based  on  the  results  of 
inspections  or  examinations  by  the  Inspectors  of  schools 
and  their  subordinates.  Town  schools,  supported  from 
municipal,  town,  or  district  cess  funds,  were  established 
in  all  the  towns  and  larger  villages,  for  the  purpose  of 
imparting  a  somewhat  higher  class  of  education,  partly 
in  Burmese  and  pardy  in  English,  between  the  mere 
primary  instruction  given  at  lay  and  monastic  schools 
and  that  imparted  at  middle-class  schools  maintained  by 
the  State.  Any  head  of  a  school  could  apply  to  have 
his  school  visited  and  the  pupils  examined  ;  while,  once 
a  year,  examinations  were  held  at  district  headquarters 
for  primary  scholarships  tenable  for  two  years  at  a 
Government  middle-class  school. 

In  1880  the  scheme  of  education  was  revised,  annual 
provincial  examinations  being  instituted  under  a  special 
departmental  Board  of  Examiners.     There  are  now  nine 



standards  of  instruction,  and  the  classes  in  schools 
correspond  with  these  standards,  while  the  classification 
of  the  school  itself  depends  upon  the  highest  class  it 
contains.  These  standards  are  respectively  termed 
lower  primary,  upper  primary,  lower  secondary  or  middle, 
and  upper  secondary  or  high.  Beyond  the  ninth 
standard,  which  is  the  matriculation  examination  of  the 
Calcutta  University,  collegiate  instruction,  imparted  in 
arts  only,  is  obtainable  at  the  Rangoon  College  affiliated 
to  Calcutta  University.  Scholarships  are  now  given 
only  for  middle  English  and  University  courses,  except 
in  the  case  of  upper  primary  scholarships  confined  to 
Upper  Burma  schools. 

The  gratuitous  monastic  schools,  for  boys  only,  still 
form  the  backbone  of  national  instruction  throughout 
all  the  rural  districts,  and  particularly  throughout  Upper 
Burma.  There  is  a  special  set  of  standards  for  these 
indigenous  vernacular  schools,  none  of  which  teaches 
beyond  the  seventh  or  lower  secondary  standard.  In 
order  that  such  may  earn  grants-in-aid  from  Government 
they  must  have  a  working  session  of  at  least  four 
months,  and  an  average  attendance  of  twelve  pupils, 
of  whom  at  least  four  must  be  able  to  read  and  write 
their  vernacular  according  to  the  second  lowest  standard. 
Non-indigenous  schools,  mostly  established  by  mission- 
ary societies,  receive  grants-in-aid  only  when  they 
comply  with  certain  rules  as  to  qualifications  of  teachers, 
rate  of  fees,  admission  of  pupils,  accommodation,  and 
discipline ;  but  in  no  case  is  any  grant  given  in  excess  of 
the  amount  contributed  from  private  sources  during  the 
previous  year  for  the  maintenance  of  the  school. 

Educational  work  was  begun  in  Upper  Burma  in 
1890,  as  soon  as  the  pacification  of  the  new  territory 
had  progressed  sufficiently  to  enable  such  a  step  to  be 
taken,  and  the  whole  of  the  departmental  rules  under 
which  Buddhist  priests  and  other  heads  of  schools  may 
look  for  assistance  from  Government  were  embodied  in 
an  education  code  published  in  1891.  The  policy  of 
Government  is  rather  to  assist,  regulate  and  inspect 
schools  maintained  voluntarily  by  monks,  laymen,  muni- 
cipalities,   or   other   associations,    than    to    found    and 



manage  schools  of  their  own ;  and  the  work  of  the 
officers  of  the  Educational  Department  is  mainly  con- 
cerned with  such  inspection  and  regulation.  Commis- 
sioners of  Divisions  and  Deputy  Commissioners  of 
Districts  are  generally  responsible  for  the  state  of 
education  in  their  respective  jurisdictions,  and  are 
expected  to  do  all  they  can  for  its  promotion.  But  upon 
the  four  Inspectors  of  schools  rests  more  particularly 
the  responsibility  for  the  state  of  instruction  in  their 
circles,  and  for  the  efficiency  of  the  work  done  by  their 
subordinates.  For  the  special  supervision  and  encourage- 
ment of  indigenous  primary  education  in  monastic  or  in 
lay  schools  each  circle  of  inspection  is  divided  into  sub- 
circles  corresponding  with  one  or  more  of  the  civil 
districts,  and  each  sub-circle  is  in  charge  of  a  Deputy 
Inspector  or  Sub- Inspector  of  schools.  In  Lower  Burma 
a  portion  of  the  district  cess  fund  is  allotted  to  the 
support  of  indigenous  schools,  and  is  divided  among 
the  village  schools  by  the  Deputy  Commissioner,  who 
manages  the  fund  and  distributes  the  grants-in-aid 
according  to  the  rules  laid  down  in  the  education  code. 
In  the  towns  of  Lower  Burma  a  portion  of  the  muni- 
cipal fund  is  similarly  allotted  to  education,  and  in  1882 
the  schools  formerly  managed  by  Government  were, 
with  the  exception  of  the  Rangoon  High  School,  handed 
over  to  the  municipalities.  Some  of  the  chief  of  these, 
however,  make  a  fixed  assignment  to  the  Director  of 
Public  Instruction  for  the  maintenance  of  the  schools 
under  technically  trained  supervision,  in  place  of  directly 
administering:  and  controlling-  them.  As  there  are  no 
cess  funds  in  Upper  Burma,  all  educational  grants  are 
paid  from  imperial  funds  ;  and  the  only  municipalities 
which  are  directly  connected  with  education  in  the  towns 
are  those  of  Mandalay  and  Sagaing. 

The  only  special  Government  schools  which  exist  in 
Burma  are  the  five  Normal  Schools,  where  pupil  teachers 
are  trained  for  municipal  and  aided  schools,  two  Survey 
Schools  in  Rangoon  and  Mandalay  under  the  control  of 
the  Director  of  Land  Records  and  Agriculture,  an  ele- 
mentary Engineering  School  established  at  Rangoon  in 
1895,  arid  a  Vernacular  Forest  School  for  the  training  of 

257  s 


subordinates,  established  on  my  recommendation,  and 
opened  at  Tharrawaddy  in  August,  1899.  There  is  a 
law  class  at  Rangoon  College,  but  those  desirous  of 
studying  medicine  have  to  go  to  India.  The  Dufferin 
Maternity  Hospital  in  Rangoon,  however,  trains  women 
as  midwives,  and  has  thereby  inaugurated  a  work  of 
enormous  future  importance,  considering  the  barbarous 
Burmese  birth  customs. 

An  Educational  Syndicate  was  established  in  1881, 
consisting  of  a  committee  appointed  by  the  Chief  Com- 
missioner, and  representing  all  educational  interests. 
In  1886  it  became  incorporated  to  enable  it  to  hold 
property  in  trust  for  educational  purposes.  The  deli- 
berations of  this  syndicate,  which  is  presided  over  by  the 
Director  of  Public  Instruction,  are  not  merely  confined  to 
the  management  and  economy  of  the  Rangoon  College 
and  High  School  under  its  immediate  control,  but  are  also 
directed  towards  the  furtherance  of  education  generally, 
and  more  particularly  towards  improvements  in  the 
conduct  and  scope  of  examinations.  It  advises  the 
Local  Government  regarding  all  standards  of  instruction 
below  those  prescribed  by  the  Calcutta  University,  and 
undertakes  the  management  of  the  middle  school  (seventh 
standard)  examinations,  and  the  educational  tests  for 
advocates,  township  officers  (Myo-Ok),  land  revenue  col- 
lectors {Thugyi),  and  clerkships  in  Government  offices. 

Of  late  years  the  progress  of  education  throughout 
Burma  has  been  rapid  and  continuous.  The  total  num- 
ber of  schools  of  all  sorts  has  risen  to  i  7,050,  affording 
instruction  to  287,987  children.  Nearly  three-fourths  of 
these  are  private  elementary  schools,  while  the  remain- 
der, slightly  exceeding  one-fourth,  is  chiefly  composed 
of  primary  schools  ;  but  the  attendance  at  the  former  is 
considerably  less  than  at  the  latter.  Secondary  educa- 
tion, imparting  instruction  beyond  the  standard  fixed  as 
the  qualifications  for  clerkships  in  Government  offices, 
is  limited  to  seventeen  schools  attended  by  5,093  pupils 
in  1900.  The  progress  of  university  education  in  Burma 
is  slow,  the  average  attendance  at  Rangoon  College  being 
eighty-nine  in  1900.  From  time  to  time  there  has  been 
talk  of  establishing  a  university  for  Burma,  but  the  pro- 



vince  is  far  from  ripe  for  such  a  new  departure.  The 
Rangoon  College,  affiliated  to  Calcutta  University,  and 
the  Baptist  College  founded  at  Rangoon  in  1895  (with 
an  average  daily  attendance  of  nine  in  1900),  afford  quite 
adequate  facilities  for  all  the  existing  needs  in  this 

A  hopeful  feature  for  the  future  is  that  the  attitude  of 
the  monks  towards  secular  education  is  gradually  be- 
coming more  favourable,  although  the  method  of  teach- 
ing at  monasteries  or  at  village  lay  schools  is  of  course 
not  ordinarily  in  conformity  with  any  of  the  standards  of 
the  Education  Department.  There  are  341  girls'  schools, 
and  the  total  number  of  girls  receiving  instruction  is 
32,468,  or  more  than  one-eighth  of  the  total  number  of 
children  attending  schools.  It  is  hardly  possible  to  over- 
rate the  importance  of  this  advance  ;  for  the  women  of 
Burma  are  the  true  heads  of  the  households,  are  naturally 
gifted  with  keen  trading  instincts  and  business  acumen, 
and  are  probably,  as  a  rule,  considerably  better  endowed 
with  intellect  and  mental  power  than  the  men,  notwith- 
standing the  higher  rung  occupied  by  the  latter  on  the 
"  ladder  of  existence  "  according  to  Buddhistic  religious 
philosophy.  The  movement  towards  the  education  of 
girls  is,  as  might  be  expected,  most  noticeable  in  the  more 
thickly  populated  parts  of  Lower  Burma. 

The  expenditure  on  education  amounted  in  1899- 1900 
to  ;^i07, 197,  of  which  ;^72,257  were  contributed  by 
Government,  the  largest  share  in  the  cost  of  develop- 
ments being  borne  from  the  provincial  revenues.  Pro- 
gress in  primary  and  middle  vernacular  education  has 
been  somewhat  hampered  by  the  want  of  good  text- 
books, but  steps  are  being  taken  under  a  Textbook 
Committee  to  substitute  carefully  prepared  translations 
of  sound  books  of  instruction  for  the  rather  badly 
arranged  and  unskilfully  compiled  works  hitherto  in  use. 
The  Shan,  Kachin  and  Chin  hill  tribes  have  hardly  as 
yet  been  touched  by  the  operations  of  the  Education 
Department ;  but  Tamil  schools  for  the  children  of 
Madras  immigrants  have  been  brought  under  inspectors, 
and  education  has  made  marked  progress  among  the 
Karens,  mainly  under  missionary  guidance. 



The  Accounts  Department  is  under  a  Comptroller- 
General,  assisted  by  five  Assistant  Comptrollers.  For 
the  regulation  of  financial  matters  between  the  imperial 
Government  of  India  and  the  provincial  Government  of 
Burma,  a  contract  is  entered  into  every  five  years.  The 
provincial  Government  receives  for  its  own  requirements 
fixed  proportions  of  the  revenues  as  derived  from  various 
sources,  and  has  to  transfer  the  remaining  portions  to  the 
Government  of  India  for  imperial  purposes.  When  un- 
foreseen calls  upon  provincial  funds  occur,  the  financial 
equilibrium  is  restored  temporarily  by  advances  from  the 
imperial  revenues ;  but  such  advances  are  repayable. 
From  the  very  outset  this  provincial  contract  system, 
which  began  to  operate  on  ist  April,  1882,  proved  dis- 
advantageous for  Burma,  as  had  been  predicted  by  the 
local  Administration,  because  the  proportions  of  revenue 
allowed  were  insufficient  to  meet  the  rapidly  expanding 
requirements  of  a  young  and  prosperous  province. 
During  three  out  of  the  first  five  years  the  provincial 
balance  sheet  closed  with  a  deficit,  which  had  to  be  made 
good  from  the  imperial  share  of  revenue.  For  some 
years  before  the  annexation  of  Ava,  Lower  Burma  had 
each  year  to  hand  over  to  the  Government  of  India  more 
than  a  crore  of  rupees  {£666,666) ;  and  this  gave  rise  to 
the  outcry  of  the  merchants  that  British  Burma  was  being 
made  a  "milch  cow"  for  India,  and  that  money  which 
ought  to  have  been  spent  on  roads,  railways,  and  other 
communications  in  Burma  was  being  misappropriated 
through  bestowal  on  other  provinces.  Out  of  gross 
revenue  receipts  amounting  to  over  ;^i, 820,000  in 
1885-86,  the  imperial  net  surplus  share,  after  deduction 
of  expenditure  for  liabilities,  was  nearly  ^743,000,  against 
a  total  provincial  allotment  of  only  ^828,000  (which 
proved  insufficient),  the  remainder  being  local  and  muni- 
cipal rates  excluded  from  the  terms  of  the  provincial 
contract.  In  1886-87  India  claimed  a  net  revenue  of 
over  ;^900,ooo  as  her  share  under  the  contract,  leaving 
only  ^966,666  to  cover  all  provincial  expenditure. 

With  the  expenditure  of  the  third  Burmese  war  to  be 
provided  for,  Burma  of  course  had  to  receive  special 
imperial  assistance.     From  military  outlay  amounting  to 



;^  190,000  for  Lower  Burma  in  1884-5,  ^^^  charges  for  the 
troops  in  Upper  and  Lower  Burma  in  1885-86  bounded 
up  to  ^635,000;  and  they  increased  to  ;!^i, 230,000 
in  the  following  year.  But  the  purely  military  expen- 
diture incurred  on  the  pacification  of  Upper  Burma,  and 
the  cost  of  the  garrison  during  the  following  years,  have 
already  been  shown  in  a  footnote  at  the  conclusion  of 
chapter  v.  (see  p.  149). 

As  affairs  were  still  in  a  state  of  transition  when  the 
first  provincial  contract  lapsed  in  1889,  a  provisional 
contract,  following  the  lines  of  the  previous  one  but  with 
certain  modifications,  was  made  for  one  year  on  slightly 
fairer  terms  for  Burma  as  estimated  by  a  Finance  Com- 
mittee. In  1888  this  provisional  contract  was  extended 
for  another  year  with  new  modifications,  and  then  con- 
tinued for  other  three  years  without  further  change.  A 
new  provincial  contract  was  made  with  Lower  Burma 
for  five  years  from  April,  1892;  but  it  was  considered 
that  the  time  had  not  yet  come  for  extending  the  pro- 
vincial contract  system  to  Upper  Burma,  where  large 
special  outlay  had  to  be  incurred  on  railways,  roads,  irri- 
gation, buildings,  and  other  public  works  of  various  de- 

At  length,  in  1897,  a  new  quinquennial  contract,  called 
the  "  Provincial  Settlement,"  was  made  with  the  Govern- 
ment of  India.  Hitherto  Upper  Burma  finances  had 
been  purely  imperial,  the  annual  excess  of  expenditure 
over  revenue  being  met  by  the  Government  of  India 
and  not  by  the  local  Government  of  Burma  ;  but  now 
Upper  and  Lower  Burma  were  amalgamated  and  unified 
for  financial  purposes. 

Under  the  terms  of  this  settlement  the  provincial 
share  of  land  revenue  and  excise,  hitherto  one-fourth, 
was  raised  to  two-thirds  and  one-half  respectively,  to 
permit  of  enhanced  outlay  for  the  development  of  the 
province  being  met  from  the  expanding  receipts  under 
these  two  chief  sources  of  revenue. 

During  the  first  year  of  its  operation,  in  1897-98,  the 
net  outcome  of  the  provincial  transactions  under  this 
new  settlement  resulted  in  a  surplus  of  ^i  13,513,  after 
remitting  to  the  Imperial  Treasury  its  full  share  of  the 


total  sum  representing  the  net  revenue  of  the  province 
for  the  year.^ 

Adding  to  the  whole  Civil  Expenditure  the  total 
Military  Expenditure  disbursed  from  Imperial  funds  by 
the  Government  of  India,  as  shown  in  the  table  previously 
given  at  the  end  of  chapter  v.  (see  p.  149),  it  will  be 
seen  that  Burma  has  already  more  than  recouped  all  the 
outlay  expended  upon  it  from  imperial  and  provincial 
sources  since  the  third  Burmese  war.  Since  the  end  of 
1 89 1,  indeed,  it  has  more  than  paid  its  own  way;  and 
for  the  last  few  years  it  has  been  again  yielding  a  large 
and  rapidly  expanding  surplus  revenue.  Moreover,  the 
expenditure  includes  the  cost  of  State  railways  through- 
out Burma,  which  up  to  the  31st  August,  1896,  when 
they  were  transferred  to  the  Burma  Railways  Company, 
represented  a  capital  outlay  of  ;^5, 248,334,  yielding  a  net 
return  of  4*4  per  cent,  a  year. 

^  The  financial  prosperity  of  the  province  may  be  gauged  from  the 
following  abstract  of  revenue  and  expenditure  since  the  annexation  of 
Upper  Burma  (converted  at  rate  of  is.  4^.  per  rupee) : — 


Revenue,  in  Pounds  Sterling, 

Civil  Expenditure  (including  State 

Railways  and  all  other  Public  Works),  in 

Pounds  Sterling. 

Surplus,  in 














































;^54, 183,906 



The  Comptroller- General  is  also  Commissioner  of 
Paper  Currency,  for  which  an  office  was  first  opened  at 
Rangoon  in  August,  1883.  The  notes  are  issued  for 
sums  of  five,  ten,  twenty,  fifty,  one  hundred,  five  hundred, 
one  thousand,  and  two  thousand  rupees,  but  the  circula- 
tion is  of  course  almost  entirely  confined  to  pieces  up  to 
one  hundred  rupees  (^6f).  Considerably  more  than 
one-half  (83,304)  of  the  148,720  notes  in  currency  in 
1900  were  for  ten  rupees.  Owing  to  extensive  forgeries 
of  five-rupee  notes  in  1891  the  circulation  of  these 
became  very  limited,  and  seems  to  show  little  sign  of 
improvement  (7,916  in  1900). 

The  District  Cess  Fund  in  Lower  Burma  and  the 
District  Funds  in  Upper  Burma,  derived  from 
bazaar  rents,  ferries,  and  the  like,  form  incorporated 
local  funds  taken  into  consideration  in  the  provincial 
contract ;  while  Town,  Cantonment,  and  Port  Trust 
funds  are  excluded  therefrom.  A  commencement  was 
made  with  municipal  administration  in  1874,  when  the 
Municipal  Act  was  passed  and  applied  to  several  of  the 
larger  towns.  There  are  now  forty  municipalities 
throughout  Burma,  to  which  members  are  nominated  by 
the  Lieutenant-Governor,  except  in  the  case  of  twelve 
towns  where  a  portion  of  the  members  is  returned 
by  election  so  as  to  represent  the  various  sections 
of  the  community.  In  Rangoon  the  President  of  the 
municipality  is  a  senior  Government  official,  whose 
services  are  lent  specially  for  five  years,  while  members 
are  elected  to  represent  Europeans,  Burmese,  Chinese, 
Madrasis,  Hindus,  and  Mohammedans,  in  addition  to 
the  members  nominated  by  Government.  In  all  the 
other  municipalities  the  Deputy  Commissioner,  the  Sub- 
Divisional  Officer,  or  the  Township  Officer  is  elected 
President,  according  as  each  municipality  happens  to  be 
the  headquarters  of  a  district,  subdivision,  or  township. 
The  twenty-five  municipalities  in  Lower  Burma  are 
administered  under  the  Burma  Municipal  Act,  1898, 
while  the  fifteen  in  Upper  Burma  are  under  the  Upper 
Burma  Municipal  Regulation,  1887. 

The   Rangoon    municipality   has    an  income  and   an 
expenditure  each  over /" 200,000  a  year,  but  is  burdened 



by  a  debt  of  ^2 72, 167  (In  1900)  incurred  chiefly  on  water 
works  and  on  the  installation  of  the  Shone  sewage 
system.  In  1884  large  water  works  were  opened  in  the 
anticipation  that  they  would  prove  sufficient  for  many 
years  to  come  ;  but  for  the  last  ten  or  twelve  years,  con- 
sequent on  the  rapid  growth  of  Rangoon  after  the 
annexation  of  Upper  Burma  and  the  introduction  of  the 
Shone  drainage  system,  the  question  of  providing  a 
further  supply  of  water  has  been  forcing  itself  more 
and  more  prominently  on  public  attention.  Experi- 
ments have  been  made  with  artesian  tube  wells  for 
temporarily  augmenting  the  water  supply,  though 
without  obviating  the  necessity  for  heavy  expenditure 
on  additional  water  works.  The  construction  of  high- 
pressure  works  has  mitigated  the  inconvenience  of  a 
short  supply  since  1893,  and  in  1896-97  the  pumping 
engines  raised  766  million  gallons  of  water.  The  other 
municipalities  have  incomes  aggregating  about  ;^  140, 000 
a  year,  which  is  a  sufficient  revenue  to  cover  their  ex- 
penditure. The  incidence  of  municipal  taxation  is  a 
little  over  five  rupees  (or  6^.  Sd.)  per  head  in  Rangoon, 
and  about  one  and  one-seventh  rupees  (or  is.  6^d.)  in 
the  other  municipalities. 

In  seven  of  the  smaller  towns  in  Lower  Burma,  Town 
Committees  are  appointed  to  consult  about  local  affairs 
and  the  utilization  of  the  town  funds.  Curiously  enough, 
considering  the  Burmese  character,  some  of  these  show 
a  disposition  to  hoard  the  incoming  money  in  place  of 
expending  it  on  useful  works. 

The  Telegraph  Department  is  administered  by  a  Chief 
Superintendent  in  Rangoon,  and  two  Superintendents  in 
Akyab  and  Mandalay,  assisted  by  Assistant  Superinten- 
dents in  charge  of  subdivisions.  In  1898  there  were 
5,183  miles  of  telegraph  lines  open,  with  12,786  miles  of 
wires.  From  118  Government  offices,  76  of  which  are 
combined  post  and  telegraph  offices,  666,983  messages 
were  despatched  in  1899- 1900;  but  there  are  also  144 
railway  and  canal  offices,  and  154  smaller  offices 
not  open  for  paid  telegrams.  The  maintenance  of 
communications  often  involves  exceedingly  arduous 
work   for  the   telegraph    officers     and   subordinates,    as 



interruptions  from  windfall  trees  are  frequent  on  many 
of  the  jungle  lines  during  the  south-west  monsoon 

Postal  affairs  are  administered  by  a  Deputy  Post- 
master General,  assisted  by  seven  Sub-Superintendents 
and  three  Inspectors.  In  addition  to  the  railway  mail 
service,  inland  mails  along  the  Irrawaddy  and  its  chief 
affluents  are  also  served  by  the  Irrawaddy  Flotilla 
Company  under  a  five-years'  contract  running  from  ist 
August,  1896;  and  since  ist  October,  1896,  the  weekly 
ocean  mail  service  between  Rangfoon  and  Calcutta, 
performed  with  great  efficiency  and  punctuality  by  the 
British  India  Steam  Navigation  Company,  has  been 
supplemented  by  an  extra  steamer  in  each  week.  Mails 
to  and  from  Europe  could  be  expedited  if  a  quicker 
steamer  service  were  arrano-ed  for  between  Rang-oon 
and  Madras ;  but  the  British  India  Company,  to 
which  no  inconsiderable  share  in  the  development  of 
Burma's  prosperity  has  been  due,  has  not  yet  been 
induced  to  place  upon  the  Madras  run  for  this  pur- 
pose a  better  class  of  steamer  with  a  higher  rate  of 
speed.  A  direct  mail  route  from  Rangoon  via 
Colombo  to  Naples  or  Marseilles  will  no  doubt  come 
in  time  as  the  commerce  of  Rangoon  expands,  but  it 
is  hardly  yet  a  matter  of  urgency. 

Even  in  the  outlying  portion  of  the  province 
postal  arrangements  are  decidedly  good.  A  daily 
service  of  runners  passes  from  the  railway  line  to 
Lashio,  the  headquarters  of  the  Northern  Shan  States, 
and  four  times  a  week  mails  proceed  from  Thazi  railway 
station  by  cart  for  about  thirty  miles  to  the  foot  of 
the  Shan  hills,  and  thence  by  mules  to  Taunggyi,  the 
headquarters  of  the  Southern  Shan  States,  whence  they 
are  despatched  further  eastwards  to  Kengtung  and 
Mong  Hsing,  Mogok,  the  headquarters  of  the  Ruby 
Mines,  has  its  mails  brought  up  by  mules  thrice  a  week 
from  Kinu  on  the  railway  line;  and  during  1899  a 
service  by  runners  was  initiated  between  Bhamo  and 
Talifu,  the  trade  emporium  of  the  central  Yunnan 

During    the  year    1899- 1900  nearly    eighteen   and    a 



quarter  million  articles  were  delivered  through  the  287 
post  offices ;  and  of  the  fourteen  and  a  half  million  letters 
and  postcards  therein  included,  nearly  one-fourth  were  in 
Burmese  and  Chinese  characters.  There  is  probably 
no  place  in  the  world  where  a  more  polyglot  corre- 
spondence has  to  be  dealt  with  than  that  passing 
through  the  Rangoon  Post  Office.  During  the  same 
year  money  orders  were  issued  to  the  extent  of 
^1,748,135,  and  were  paid  to  the  sum  of  ^727,925. 
Upwards  of  ten  per  cent,  of  these  latter  issues  are  in  the 
shape  of  telegraphic  remittances,  a  convenient  system 
which  has  long  been  customary  throughout  India.  Under 
the  orders  of  the  Government  of  India,  the  system  of 
paying  money  orders  in  sovereigns  was  introduced  into 
Rangoon  in  March,  1900. 

Another  postal  convenience  arising  from  the  con- 
ditions of  Anglo-Indian  life  is  the  system  of  value- 
payable  parcel  post,  by  which  articles  ordered  of  trades- 
men can  be  received  through  the  post  on  payment  of 
cash  before  delivery,  the  Post  Office  paying  the  declared 
net  value  to  the  sender  after  collection.  This  is  a  very 
doubtful  benefit,  as  obvious  drawbacks  are  inherent  in 
the  system.  Savings  banks  have  been  opened  at  173 
of  the  post  offices,  and  showed  balances  amounting  to 
-^550.768  in  1900.  Another  benevolent  use  made  of 
post  offices  is  for  the  sale  of  small  packets  of  five-grain 
doses  of  quinine  to  counteract  the  effects  of  malaria. 
Made  at  the  Government  factories,  the  quinine  is  thus 
distributed  at  a  price  of  one-third  of  a  penny,  which  a 
little  more  than  covers  the  cost  of  manufacture  and  con- 
tingencies;  and  in  1899- 1900,  148,384  such  doses  were 
purchased.  The  sale  is  increasing  largely  each  year,  as 
the  Burmese  know  and  appreciate  the  properties  of  the 
Sdkd  or  "  bitter  medicine  "  in  warding  off  and  curing  the 
malarious  fever  so  prevalent  in  all  jungle  districts  during 
the  spring  and  autumn. 

Ecclesiastical  matters  are  administered  by  the  Bishop 
of  Rangoon,  assisted  by  an  Archdeacon,  the  diocese 
having  been  formed  in  1877.  There  are  eleven 
Chaplains  on  this  provincial  branch  of  the  Bengal 
Establishment,  while  five  clergymen  of  the  Additional 



Clergy  Society  receive  allowances  from  Government  for 
holding  religious  services  at  places  where,  there  being 
no  European  troops,  chaplains  are  not  stationed.  The 
Roman  Catholic  Church,  whose  missionaries,  at  work 
in  Burma  since  the  fifteenth  century,  are  scattered  all  over 
the  country  and  farther  north-east  into  China,  is  repre- 
sented by  Bishops  at  Rangoon  and  Mandalay ;  while 
the  American  Baptist  Mission,  the  Society  for  the 
Propagation  of  the  Gospel,  and  the  Church  Missionary 
Society  have  their  teachers  resident  in  many  of  the 
healthier  parts  of  the  province. 


Chapter    X 


UNDER  the  ancient  and  original  land  system  among 
the  Burmese,  as  detailed  in  the  opening  portions 
of  the  eighth  section  of  the  Laws  of  Manu,  the  complete 
title  or  "  perfect  proprietary  right "  was  restricted  either 
to  land  given  to  soldiers  and  royal  servants,  or  to  grants 
and  assignments  made  by  the  monarch  in  measured  allot- 
ments for  the  support  of  civil  officials,  or  else  to  land 
which  had  descended  by  hereditary  succession,  had  been 
long  in  the  possession  of  the  family,  and  was  now  in  use 
for  the  cultivation  of  food-grain.  Such  areas  were  called 
MyHhc\  while  all  others  were  My^shin  lands  having  an 
incomplete  title  or  "  imperfect  proprietary  right,  liable  to 
dispute."  These  latter  comprised  lands  received  in  gift, 
land  purchased  from  those  in  whose  family  it  was  here- 
ditary, land  reclaimed  from  the  forest,  abandoned  land 
cultivated  for  upwards  of  ten  years  with  the  knowledge 
and  tacit  consent  of  the  owner,  and  land  allotted  to  culti- 
vators by  civil  officials  or  village  headmen.  In  any  of 
these  cases  the  title  held  good  during  the  lifetime  of  the 
buyer  or  cultivator ;  but  the  land  could  be  redeemed  by 
the  original  owner,  or  by  his  heirs,  on  the  decease  of 
the  person  temporarily  in  possession  or  on  his  wishing 
to  dispose  of  it. 

Theoretically  and  legally  the  Kings  of  Burma  were 
not,  like  most  of  the  sovereigns  in  ancient  India,  absolute 
lords  of  the  soil.  They  received  a  share  of  the  produce 
of  the  land  ;  but  to  the  land  itself  the  people  could  origin- 
ally obtain  a  clear  title  conveying  absolute  proprietorship, 
subject  only  to  contribution  for  the  purposes  of  the  State, 
by  the  clearance  and  cultivation  of  forest  tracts.  The 
title   to   land   was   therefore   essentially   allodial.      The 



Burmese  agriculturists  were  peasant  proprietors.  The 
land  was  held  in  fee-simple,  and  the  right  and  title  vested 
in  the  original  occupier,  and  his  heirs  and  assigns,  as 
owner.  To  this  general  allodial  possession,  however,  there 
were  two  exceptions,  although  they  really  did  not  apply 
to  anything  like  vast  extents  of  cultivable  land.  These 
were  the  Crown  lands,  and  the  lands  held  under  the 
various  kinds  of  service  tenures.  Apart  from  these  two 
classes  of  land,  the  Kings  of  Burma  laid  no  restrictions  ^ 
on  the  cultivation  of  waste  land.  Any  person  was  at 
liberty  to  make  a  clearing  in  the  jungle ;  and  on  bring- 
ing this  under  cultivation,  he  became  its  owner.  In  this 
case  there  was  no  tenure,  no  holding  from  an  overlord. 
Clear  primitive  titles  of  this  sort  could,  of  course,  only 
be  obtained  in  a  country  where  the  amount  of  cultivable 
land  was  far  In  excess  of  the  requirements  of  the  popu- 
lation. But  this  right  of  private  property  in  land  de- 
scended In  Burma  as  unaltered,  as  certain,  and  as  absolute 
as  could  be  expected  under  any  oriental  despotism,  and 
under  the  rule  of  autocratic  Kings  upon  whose  will  the 
lives  and  property  of  their  subjects  were  practically 

The  feeling  of  attachment  to  the  land  is  strong  within 
the  Burmese  peasantry,  and  so  long  as  the  members  of 
a  family  continue  to  reside  in  the  vicinity  of  their  an- 
cestral holdings  they  will  not  willingly  relinquish  the 
claim  they  have  upon  the  title  to  it.  Even  if  a  holding 
were  temporarily  abandoned,  the  Burmese  customary 
laws  sanctioned  its  being  claimed  again  by  the  original 
clearer,  unless  the  party  in  possession  could  prove  that 
he  had  been  in  undisputed  enjoyment  of  it  for  ten  years 
of  constant  occupation.  Thus,  from  ancient  times  down 
to  the  present,  sales  of  land  outright  have  never  been 
customary.  Though  agricultural  lands  were  frequently 
conveyed  from  one  person  to  another  for  valuable  con- 
sideration, through  a  transaction  much  more  closely  re- 
sembling a  sale  than  any  mere  mortgage,  yet  there  always 
existed  a  right  of  re-purchase,  and  a  disability  on  the 
part  of  the  purchaser  to  re-dispose  of  the  land  without 
the  consent  of  the  original  seller.  What  seems  at 
first   sight   to  clash  with  any  deep-rooted  affection  tor 



hereditary  lands  is  the  fact  that,  in  the  great  majority  of 
cases,  the  holdings  of  peasant  families  do  not  usually 
date  back  for  many  generations.  This  is,  however,  easily 
accounted  for  by  the  constant  state  of  anarchy  and  mal- 
administration, and  the  slackness  of  the  control  exerted 
over  the  provincial  Governors  for  centuries  back.  Thus 
the  normal  course  of  residence,  generation  after  genera- 
tion, on  the  family  holdings  originally  acquired  by  clear- 
ing in  the  primeval  forest  was,  probably  time  after  time, 
interfered  with  by  social  disorders  necessitating  the  aban- 
donment of  lands  already  cleared  and  migration  to  fresh 
clearances,  which  were  at  all  times  very  easy  to  make. 
But,  at  the  same  time,  the  Burman  has  no  sense  of  duty 
towards  the  land.  A  creature  of  whim  and  caprice,  he 
will  often  only  cultivate  a  part  of  his  holding,  leaving  the 
rest  untouched.  The  Upper  Burman  is  particularly 
uncertain  in  this  respect.  He  may  take  it  into  his  head 
to  try  Lower  Burma  for  a  year  or  two,  sell  off  his  plough 
cattle,  and  abandon  his  fields  for  a  time  ;  or  he  will  go 
down  to  the  delta,  and  work  as  a  coolie  for  a  season  ;  or 
he  may  rush  improvidently  to  the  opposite  extreme  of 
hiring  labourers  and  trying  to  cultivate  an  area  altogether 
beyond  the  means  really  at  his  disposal. 

The  existing  land  system  found  in  force  when  the 
Burmese  Empire  crumbled  away  during  the  last  three- 
quarters  of  a  century,  and  fell  piece  by  piece  under 
British  rule,  consisted,  therefore,  either  of  Crown  lands, 
the  property  of  the  King,  or  of  service- temcre  lands,  set 
apart  as  appanages  in  support  of  officials  of  various  ranks, 
or  oi  petty  allodial  properties,  held  in  private  ownership.^ 
All  the  rest  was  waste  land,  either  in  the  shape  of  un- 

^  The  monasterial  and  pagoda  lands  ( Wuttagdn)  are  so  compara- 
tively small  that  they  may  practically  be  left  out  of  account.  Regarding 
the  tenure  of  such  lands,  some  doubt  exists  as  to  the  holder  in  trust 
under  the  State.  Lands,  buildings,  and  gifts  of  all  kinds  to  the  re- 
ligious body,  may  be  dedicated  in  three  different  ways.  The  formula 
used  may  apply  only  to  an  individual  recluse  {Pagalika),  or  to  several 
monks  conjointly  {Ganika),  or  else  to  the  whole  religious  body  present 
and  future,  and  for  public  use  {Singika).  Pagodas,  chapels,  and  rest- 
houses  are  invariably,  while  monasteries  and  monastic  lands  are  usually, 
dedicated  in  this  last  way  {Singika) ;  and  in  this  case  the  holder  in 
trust  may  be  presumed  to  be  the  Saddw,  or  chief  of  the  religious  body 



reclaimed  forest  jungle  or  of  land  which,  after  having 
been  cleared  and  occupied,  had  been  abandoned  and 
allowed  to  revert  into  jungle. 

On  the  annexation  of  the  provinces  of  Arakan  and 
Tenasserim  in  1826,  and  of  Pegu  and  Martaban  in  1852, 
the  first  two  classes  of  land  were  allowed  to  disappear, 
their  occupiers  being  placed  on  precisely  the  same  foot- 
ing as  the  cultivators  of  other  lands ;  but  after  the 
annexation  of  Upper  Burma  in  1886,  the  British  Govern- 
ment took  possession  of  the  Crown  lands  and  service- 
tenure  lands,  and  introduced  a  law  regulating  the  pro- 
prietorship and  the  tenures  of  all  classes  of  land,  State 
or  non-State.  Waste  lands  thereupon  became  the  pro- 
perty of  the  British  Government,  and  the  acquisition  of 
new  land  for  cultivation  thenceforward  took  place  by 
means  of  tenure  direct  from  the  State. 

The  practice  which  sprang  up  in  Lower  Burma,  after 
1852,  was  based  on  the  customary  law  of  the  country 
as  to  the  clearance  of  waste  lands  being  open  to  any  new 
comer.  Any  one  could  select  a  piece  of  land  at  his 
pleasure,  clear  it,  and  cultivate  it,  paying  the  Government 
land  revenue  demand  upon  it  when  the  time  came  for  the 
circle  Thugyi  or  Revenue  Collector  to  measure  it  for  the 
annual  assessment  of  land  revenue.  If  the  clearer  and 
cultivator  desired  to  hold  the  land  free  of  revenue  for 
some  years,  until  it  was  brought  into  a  thorough  state 
of  cultivation,  he  could  make  written  application  to  the 
Thugyi  for  a  grant  up  to  five  acres,  to  the  subdivisional 
Magistrate  if  above  five  and  under  fifty  acres,  and  to  the 
Deputy  Commissioner  in  charge  of  the  district  for  an 
area  over  fifty  acres  in  extent.  The  grants  applied  for 
usually  varied  from  about  five  to  sixteen  acres.  After 
the  land  had  been  surveyed,  a  grant  was  issued,  cultiva- 
tion being  allowed  rent  free  for  a  term  of  years,  varying 
according  to  the  nature  of  the  jungle  which  had  to  be 
cleared  and  the  obstructions  to  be  overcome  in  bringing 

in  the  district,  who  usually  appoints  a  head  monk  to  the  monastery  in 
case  of  the  death  of  its  occupant.  Under  either  of  the  first  two  forms 
of  dedication  {Pagalika  and  Ganika),  the  giver  and  his  heirs  and  re- 
presentatives are  in  practice  considered  the  holders  in  trust  of  such 




the  soil  into  a  state  of  thorough  cultivation.  For  rice 
cultivation  the  period  of  exemption  varied  from  one  to 
seven  years,  the  latter  being  in  high  tree-forest,  the  roots 
of  which  took  long  to  rot  and  were  hard  to  remove ; 
while  for  orchard  cultivation  rent-free  tenure  was  per- 
mitted up  to  a  limit  of  twelve  years,  in  proportion  to 
the  trouble  of  clearing  and  the  time  when  the  fruit-trees 
would  begin  to  yield  returns.  Special  periods  of  exemp- 
tion were  also  permissible  in  the  case  of  land  requiring 
extra  expenditure  beyond  mere  clearance,  as  in  tracts 
needing  irrigation  works  to  make  them  productive,  or 
needing  embankments  to  protect  them  from  inundation. 

The  modes  of  acquiring  ownership  of  land  in  the 
rural  tracts  of  Lower  Burma  are  prescribed  in  die  Burma 
Land  and  Revenue  Act,  1876,  which  gave  the  force  of 
law  to  the  above  system  based  mainly  upon  the  custom- 
ary modes  of  acquisition  found  current  when  the  province 
came  under  British  rule.  Under  this  enactment,  owner- 
ship in  land  may  be  acquired  either  by  squatters'  rights, 
exercised  over  the  same  piece  of  ground  for  twelve  years 
without  interruption,  or  by  a  specific  grant  from  the 
State  made  through  the  district  officials  and  to  the  ex- 
tent above  indicated.  The  first  of  these  modes  of 
acquisition  prevails  in  all  the  more  settled  parts  of  the 
country,  where  permanent  villages  and  hamlets  have  long 
maintained  their  position,  and  where  there  is  consequently 
a  more  advanced  state  of  cultivation  ;  for  under  such 
circumstances  the  margin  of  waste  land  still  available 
continually  tends  to  decrease,  and  the  holdings  of  indi- 
vidual cultivators  are  gradually  increased  by  extending 
the  existing  clearances  for  permanent  cultivation.  When 
single  households  or  small  communities  of  two  or  three 
families  cut  themselves  adrift  from  their  old  associations, 
and  go  elsewhere  to  make  fresh  clearances  in  the  forest 
with  a  view  to  permanent  cultivation  and  residence,  the 
exercise  of  squatters'  rights  is  also  a  not  unusual  method 
of  acquiring  a  title  to  the  land  cleared ;  but,  in  the 
majority  of  cases,  new  settlers  in  remote  jungle  tracts 
usually  secure  the  speedier  and  more  formal  and  direct 
ownership  by  obtaining  a  Patta  or  grant  from  the  State. 
As  clearances  of  this  sort  are  almost  invariably  under 



five  acres  per  individual  holding,  the  great  bulk  of  the 
ordinary  grants  for  new  cultivation  were  formerly  issued 
by  the  Thugyi  of  the  revenue  circles  into  which  each 
township  of  a  district  is  subdivided  ;  but  under  new 
rules,  sanctioned  in  1897,  all  power  of  making  grants 
has  now  been  withdrawn  from  Thugyi,  whose  position 
exposed  them  to  the  temptations  of  land-jobbing.  The 
tendency  of  these  new  rules  was  to  prevent  unnecessary 
applications  for  land  grants,  and  to  secure  a  more  exact 
scrutiny  of  the  terms  upon  which  land  is  granted,  care 
being  taken  to  try  and  check  acquisition  by  mere  specu- 
lators. During  1895-96,  70,150  acres  (109  square  miles) 
of  land  were  granted  free  of  revenue  for  a  term  of  years 
under  the  Act  in  Lower  Burma  ;  while  in  the  following 
year  the  areas  granted  fell  to  34,070  acres  (53  square 
miles),  mainly  in  consequence  of  the  check  then  given  to 
land  speculation,  and  of  greater  care  in  issuing  grants. 
In  1898-99  the  grants  rose  again  to  55,870  acres  (87 
square  miles),  and  in  1899-1900  they  increased  to  68,534 
acres  (107  square  miles). 

Larger  grants  of  land,  amounting  actually  in  some 
cases  even  to  upwards  of  thirty  square  miles  in  extent, 
had  formerly  been  made  by  Government  throughout 
Arakan,  Pegu  and  Tenasserim,  with  the  object  of 
enabling  capitalists  ( ThuU)  to  bring  these  great  estates 
{ThuU  My^  or  "rich  man's  land")  speedily  into  culti- 
vation by  means  of  imported  labour.  All  such  grants 
were  made  under  the  old  Waste  Land  Rules,  which  were 
superseded  when  the  Land  and  Revenue  Act  came  into 
force  in  1876.  The  results  anticipated  by  Government 
in  creating  estates  of  this  nature  were,  however,  not 
realized,  even  although  exceedingly  liberal  terms  of 
exemption  from  rent  or  revenue  had  been  attached  to 
these  tenures.  In  some  cases  the  grantees  applied  for 
and  obtained  great  stretches  of  forest  land  apparently 
rather  for  the  purpose  of  working  out  the  existing  stock 
of  mature  timber — other  than  teak,  the  proprietary  right 
over  which  vested  solely  in  Government — than  with  any 
bon^  fide  intention  of  investing  capital  in  trying  to  bring 
their  grant-lands  speedily  into  permanent  cultivation. 
This  endeavour  to  create  large  agricultural  estates  proved 

273  T 


rather  a  failure.  Many  of  the  grants  were  from  time  to 
time  voluntarily  surrendered,  or  were  resumed  owing  to 
non-compliance  with  the  conditions  under  which  they 
were  held,  such  as  failure  to  bring  a  certain  proportion 
under  cultivation  within  a  certain  period,  or  failure  to 
pay  the  revenue  demand  when  the  land  in  due  time  be- 
came assessable  thereto.  In  1897  the  number  of  existing 
grants,  dating  from  the  time  of  the  Waste  Land  Rules, 
was  one  hundred,  the  total  area  held  under  which 
amounted  to  159,859  acres,  or  250  square  miles.  All 
these  have  already  become  assessable  to  land- revenue 
except  nine  grants  ;  and,  of  these  nine,  four  will  ulti- 
mately become  assessable,  while  five  were  granted  under 
conditions  exempting  them  from  such  liability. 

The  provisions,  above  sketched,  for  the  extension  of 
permanent  cultivation  throughout  the  plains  do  not  apply 
to  the  shifting  Taungya  or  temporary  "hill-clearings" 
practised  for  rice-cultivation  by  the  Karens  and  other 
jungle  folks  inhabiting  the  low,  forest-clad  hills  of  Lower 
Burma — a  wasteful,  primitive,  nomadic  system,  which  is 
elsewhere  described  in  detail  {vide  chapter  xvii.).  Sub- 
ject to  the  payment  of  an  annual  Taungya  tax,  these 
hill-men  can  migrate  from  year  to  year,  clearing,  burn- 
ing, and  cultivating  patches  of  forest  not  included  either 
within  State  Reserved  Forests,  or  in  tracts  preliminarily 
notified  for  inquiry  and  settlement,  with  a  view  to  pro- 
posed reservation.  The  killing  or  injury  of  teak  and 
certain  other  reserved  trees,  and  permitting  fire  to  spread 
into  Reserved  Forests  are  also  prohibited,  and  are  made 
punishable  under  the  forest  laws ;  but  the  latter  are,  in 
these  particular  respects,  applied  only  with  leniency  and 
discretion.  In  many  of  the  Reserved  Forests  Taungya 
tracts  have  been  set  apart  exclusively  for  the  practice  of 
this  form  of  agriculture  by  the  Karens  located  in  or  near 
these  at  the  time  of  reservation  and  settlement.  Thus, 
of  the  17,153  square  miles  of  Reserved  Forests  through- 
out Burma  in  1900,  865  square  miles  were  burdened  in 
this  manner  with  Taungya  rights  or  privileges. 

In  some  parts  of  the  country,  as,  for  example,  among 
the  inhabitants  of  the  higher  hills  between  the  Sittang 
and  the  Salween  rivers,  the  pressure  of  population  has 



led  to  the  tacit  recognition  of  definite  tribal  or  communal 
tracts  within  which  shifting  cultivation  is  carried  on  with 
a  definite  and  regular  system  of  rotation.  The  Land 
and  Revenue  Act  recognises  the  necessities  of  the  jungle 
tribes  with  regard  to  this  hereditary  mode  of  cultivation, 
and  provides  for  Taungya  tracts  being  formally  assigned 
to  communities  which  make  application  to  this  effect  in 
order  to  keep  newcomers  away  from  the  localities  where 
the  applicants  have  been  accustomed  to  exercise  Taungya 
rights.  The  importance  of  this  shifting  hill  cultivation 
in  Burma  may  be  estimated  from  the  fact  that  about  six 
per  cent,  of  the  total  male  population  is  engaged  in  it. 
Endeavours  are  being  made,  by  offers  of  land  and  of  ad- 
vances for  the  purchase  of  plough  cattle,  to  induce  the 
hill-men  to  take  to  permanent  cultivation  on  the  plains 
fringing  the  hills.  In  course  of  time  many  will  thus 
change  their  habits  ;  but  in  a  country  like  Burma  there 
will  always  remain  a  large  number  who  prefer  the  freer 
and  rather  romantic  nomad  life  in  the  forest  to  the  more 
monotonous  existence  in  villages  surrounded  by  perma- 
nent cultivation  on  the  plains. 

When  the  lines  were  fixed  upon  which  the  adminis- 
tration of  Upper  Burma  was  to  be  conducted,  the  law 
regulating  the  land  system  was  embodied  in  the  Upper 
Burma  Land  and  Revenue  Regulation,  1889,  which 
differs  in  many  respects  from  the  Act  in  force  in  the 
older  portion  of  the  province.  A  primary  division  of 
all  land  was  made  into  State  land  and  non-State  land. 
The  former  included  all  the  Crown  lands  of  different 
denominations  [Ledaw,  Ayddaw,  Lamaingmy^ — as  pre- 
viously described  in  chapter  vi.),  all  lands  held  under 
service-tenures  of  various  kinds,  all  waste  and  forest 
land,  and  all  land  which  had  been  abandoned  after  being 
brought  under  cultivation,  and  to  the  ownership  of  which 
no  claim  was  preferred  within  two  years  of  the  enforce- 
ment of  the  Regulation,  i.e.  up  to  13th  July,  189 1.  The 
non-State  Land  comprised  all  lands  held  in  private 
ownership,  and  included  pagoda  or  monasterial  lands 
(Wuttagdii),  hereditary  lands  (^Bobdbaing)  in  possession 
of  the  descendants  of  persons  who  cleared  them,  or  of 
those  who  obtained  them  by  purchase  from  the  original 


owner  (clearer)  or  his  descendants,  or  the  ownership  of 
which  had  been  conveyed  under  a  written  grant  from 
the  King,  and  lands  cleared  and  reclaimed  {Dantdg^cyd) 
before  the  enforcement  of  the  Regulation  and  still  in 
the  possession  of  the  person  who  thus  brought  it  into 
cultivation.  These  non-State  lands  are  allodial  posses- 
sions already  alienated  from  the  ownership  of  Govern- 
ment. They  are  consequently  held  as  freeholds,  and 
not  under  tenure  of  any  description,  the  peasant  proprie- 
tors of  all  hereditary  and  reclaimed  lands  being  merely 
burdened  with  the  ThdtliamMd  or  house-tax  as  their  direct 
contribution  towards  the  support  of  the  Administration. 

In  the  case  of  the  Crown  lands  and  the  lands  held 
under  service-tenures,  the  British  Government  simply 
assumed  the  rights  previously  enjoyed  by  the  Burmese 
Kings.  But  with  regard  to  all  waste  lands,  and  lands 
which  had  been  allowed  to  revert  into  jungle  after  once 
being  cleared  for  cultivation,  they  did  much  more  than 
this  in  declaring  all  such  waste  land  to  be  the  property 
of  Government  and  decreeing  that  no  such  land  may  be 
cultivated  except  in  accordance  with  rules  framed  under 
the  Land  Regulation.  A  system  of  land-tenure  was  thus 
introduced  in  place  of  the  previously  existing  allodial 
peasant  proprietorship.  These  rules  provide  for  the 
grant  of  leases  of  waste  land  for  any  period  not  exceed- 
ing thirty  years,  and  for  the  grant  of  permits  to  occupy 
such  land  temporarily.  Cultivators  wishing  to  occupy 
waste  land  can  adopt  either  of  these  methods  of  acquisi- 
tion. The  rules,  modelled  on  those  in  force  in  Lower 
Burma,  provide  for  the  levy  of  revenue  on  areas  leased 
and  occupied,  and  for  the  temporary  exemption  from 
revenue  of  areas  which  have  first  to  be  cleared  of  grass, 
scrub,  or  tree-jungle  before  they  can  yield  remunerative 
crops.  In  1895-96  leases  of  waste  land  were  granted 
only  to  the  extent  of  9,806  acres  (15  square  miles)  in 
Upper  Burma,  as  the  majority  of  new  cultivators  pre- 
ferred to  do  without  leases.  In  the  following  year  the 
area  leased  sank  to  6,154  acres  (9f  square  miles)  owing 
to  the  rules  being  amended  by  a  provision  expressly 
prohibiting  the  transfer  of  any  lease  of  State  land  to  a 
non-agriculturist  or  a  non- Burmese  without  the  permission 



of  the  township  officer;  for  the  Upper  Burman  was  thus 
paternally  protected  against  usurers  of  his  own  race  and 
the  more  rapacious  Indian  money-lenders.  In  1898-99 
the  area  rose  to  1 1,236  acres  (17^  square  miles),  and  it  fell 
off  again  to  9,761  acres  (i5:|-  square  miles)  in  1 899-1900. 
Some  of  these  State  lands  were  put  up  to  auction  for 
sale  of  the  occupancy  rights.  Thus,  in  1896-97,  4,163 
acres  of  rice  land  were  sold  in  the  Mandalay  district ; 
but  such  sales  of  the  right  of  occupation  are  now  infre- 
quent, owing  to  the  restrictions  applied  with  regard  to 
the  transfer  of  the  tenant's  interest. 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  while  a  simple  uniform  land 
system  sprang  up  in  Lower  Burma  under  British  ad- 
ministration, a  more  complex  system  is  in  force  through- 
out Upper  Burma.  In  the  latter  case  there  were  not 
only  large  stretches  of  Ledaw  or  "  royal  lands  "  let  out 
to  tenants  of  the  Crown  paying  a  rental  varying  in 
amount  up  to  one-fourth  of  the  produce,  at  which  share 
it  was  usually  fixed,  but  also  a  class  of  landowners  in 
the  persons  of  those,  or  of  their  descendants,  who  had 
received  grants  of  land  through  the  special  favour  of 
the  King.  Tenancy  under  landlords  was  therefore,  and 
still  is,  much  more  common  throughout  Upper  than  in 
Lower  Burma,  The  tenants  occupying  State  land  have 
the  incidents  of  their  tenure,  and  their  rights  and  privi- 
legfes,  laid  down  in  the  rules  under  the  Land  Regrulation. 
Fixation  of  rent  is  provided  for  on  a  consideration  of 
the  market  value  of  the  produce  and  of  the  amount  of 
the  customary  rent.  Provision  is  also  made  for  the 
eviction  of  tenants  after  notice  and  on  payment  of  com- 
pensation for  improvements,  or  on  further  additional  pay- 
ment for  disturbance  in  default  of  due  notice  to  quit. 
Tenancy  under  private  landlords  is  not  privileged  with 
any  fixity  of  tenure,  nor  are  there  any  legal  limits  to  the 
rents  which  may  be  demanded.  In  these  respects  the 
position  of  tenants  of  private  individuals  is  similar  to 
that  of  tenants  in  Lower  Burma. 

Although  the  normal  condition  of  the  Burmese  agri- 
culturist is  that  of  a  peasant  proprietor,  yet  the  number 
of  tenancies  which  have  recently  sprung  up  in  the  centres 
of  rice-production  is  already  considerable,  and  the  class 



of  tenants  appears  to  be  growing  quickly.  It  is  mainly 
recruited  from  persons  who  have  formerly  possessed  the 
land  but  have  had  to  part  with  the  ownership  owing  to 
debt,  and  who  now  occupy  as  tenants  the  holdings  they 
originally  held  in  fee  simple.  Other  tenancies  are  often 
also  held,  particularly  in  the  deltoid  tracts,  by  newcomers 
from  other  districts  and  by  young  men  setting  up  house  ; 
for  on  marrying  it  is  still  not  unusual  for  a  young  man 
to  live  for  two  or  three  years  in  the  house  of  his  parents- 
in-law  and  to  work  for  them,  or  to  be  a  tenant  on  a  portion 
of  their  land,  before  he  and  his  wife  found  a  separate 
household  of  their  own. 

As  registration  of  transfers  of  land  is  not  in  every  case 
compulsory,  a  precise  estimate  cannot  be  made  as  to  the 
extent  to  which  land  is  being  year  after  year  transferred 
from  its  original  owners  to  their  creditors.  But  such 
transfers  are  annually  increasing  in  all  tracts  within  easy 
reach  of  trading  centres  in  Lower  Burma,  and  there  is 
a  corresponding  steady  increase  in  the  area  of  land 
cultivated  by  agriculturists  who  have  descended  to  the 
position  of  tenants  having  no  statutory  rights.  As  a 
cultivator  acquiring  land  under  the  Land  Revenue  Act 
has  transferable  rights  in  his  holding,  borrowing  money 
on  mortgage  of  these  is  thus  rendered  easy  in  all  locali- 
ties where  land  has  obtained  a  market  value ;  and 
money-lenders  are  usually  to  be  found  ready  to  make 
advances  by  means  of  which  they  can  ultimately  secure 
to  themselves  the  ownership  of  land  which  they  will 
probably  be  able  to  let  at  six  rupees  (eight  shillings)  or 
more  per  acre,  the  former  owners  being  often  left  in 
possession  as  tenants.  The  condition  of  tenants  is  on 
the  whole  prosperous,  even  although  they  have  no  fixity 
of  tenure  and  there  is  no  legal  limit  to  rents.  The  only 
safeguards  against  rack-renting,  and  they  have  hitherto 
proved  efficient,  are  the  facts  that  there  is  a  considerable 
competition  for  tenants,  that  a  fresh  tenancy  is  not  diffi- 
cult to  obtain,  and  that  in  most  districts  fresh  land  for 
cultivation  under  direct  holding  from  Government  can 
generally  be  had  on  easy  terms  by  moving  elsewhere  to 
less  populous  tracts. 

The  rent  fixed  by  custom  in  parts  of  the  Bassein  and 




Henzada  districts  in  the  extreme  west  of  the  Irrawaddy 
delta  is  ten  per  cent,  of  the  gross  produce,  measured 
after  harvest,  p/iis  the  land  revenue.  Under  this  custom 
the  tenant  only  pays  rent  on  the  crop  he  has  reaped. 
As  the  actual  amount  of  the  rent  is  thus  only  known 
after  the  harvest,  partial  relief  is  practically  afforded  to 
the  tenant  in  case  of  any  circumstances  operating  to  pre- 
vent him  from  obtaining  the  full  quantity  of  crop  usually 
yielded  by  the  land,  and  any  loss  thus  arising  is  distri- 
buted between  landlord  and  tenant. 

Increase  of  population  and  increase  of  cultivation  in 
all  the  districts  within  easy  reach  of  the  centres  of  the 
rice-export  trade  naturally  tend  to  diminish  the  area  of 
cultivable  waste  land  capable  of  being  reclaimed  for 
permanent  cultivation  ;  and  this  of  course  tends  to  estab- 
lish a  marketable  value  for  land,  which  is  much  more 
likely  to  rise  in  the  future  than  to  remain  stationary  or 
to  fall.  It  is  naturally  therefore  in  tracts  of  this  descrip- 
tion that  foreclosures  on  land  mortgages  are  most 
numerous.  Creditors  usually  prefer  to  make  further 
advances  to  their  debtors  in  order  to  induce  the  latter  to 
hold  on  to  their  fields,  rather  than  foreclose  and  take 
possession  of  land  which  they  cannot  cultivate  them- 
selves, and  for  which  it  is  at  present  difficult  to  get 
tenants.  A  decided  movement  is,  however,  gradually 
taking  place  in  the  direction  of  tenancies  throughout  the 
richer  portions  of  Lower  Burma,  where  nearly  twenty- 
one  per  cent,  of  the  whole  occupied  area  is  now  held  by 
tenants.  This  tendency  may  be  seen  from  the  following 
statistics,  even  though  these  data  are  not  complete  : — 

Area  occu- 



Land  Sold. 


No.  of 

pied  by 

Rent  per 












































The  improvidence  of  the  Burmese  tends  to  drive  agri- 
culturists into  the  hands  of  money-lenders ;  and  this  has 
resulted  in  the  formation  of  a  class  of  non-agriculturist 
landlords,  which  now  numbers  over  eighteen  thousand  in 
Lower  Burma.  But  at  the  same  time  agriculturists  with 
money  at  disposal  are  purchasing  holdings  largely,  so 
that  it  cannot  at  present  be  said  that  the  land  has  yet 
passed  to  any  large  and  serious  extent  out  of  the  hands 
of  the  ag^riculturist  class.  Yet  in  some  districts,  as  in 
Tharrawaddy,  such  a  danger  exists ;  and  an  experimental 
Tenancy  Bill  is  now  under  consideration  with  a  view  to 
checking  abuses  of  their  rights  by  landlords. 

As  the  rent  is  usually  paid  in  kind,  the  rental  value  of 
land  fluctuates  from  year  to  year  with  the  current  price 
of  paddy  or  of  the  other  crop  raised.  Thus  the  apparent 
increase  in  average  rental  value  of  rice  lands,  which  rose 
from  6"88  rupees  in  1895-96,  culminated  in  1898-99, 
and  then  decreased  slightly  to  8*15  rupees  in  1899- 1900, 
was  solely  due  to  fluctuation  in  the  price  of  paddy,  and 
not  to  any  variation  in  the  actual  rental  value  of  land 
from  competition  among  tenants.  A  favourable  market 
for  paddy  also  enables  landlords  to  find  tenants  for  land 
which  would  otherwise  remain  uncultivated  if  the  price 
of  paddy  seems  likely  to  be  low  during  the  next  ship- 
ping season.  The  market  value  of  land  became  tem- 
porarily reduced  a  few  years  ago,  partly  on  account  of 
lower  prices  for  paddy  being  anticipated,  and  partly  also 
through  Government  assessing  at  full  rates  all  fallow 
lands  held  by  non-cultivators,  for  the  purpose  of  impos- 
ing a  check  on  land-jobbing  and  the  wholesale  transfer 
of  land  to  non-agriculturists  in  the  deltoid  districts.  The 
more  careful  application  of  the  rules  concerning  the  fallow 
rate  has  on  the  one  hand  deterred  professional  money- 
lenders and  traders  from  being  too  eager  in  acquiring 
the  proprietorship  of  land,  while  on  the  other  it  has 
impelled  them  to  seek  tenants  for  such  land  as  they  hold 
already.  As  uncropped  land  belonging  to  an  absentee 
landlord  is  now  assessed  at  the  full  rate  of  revenue 
instead  of  at  the  fallow  rate,  it  has  thus  been  rendered 
less  profitable  for  money-lenders  to  hold  large  areas  of 
cultivable  land  as  a  mere  speculation  for  a  rise  in  price. 



The  enforcement  of  a  stricter  practice  with  regard  to 
fallow  rates  has  further  had  the  very  beneficial  effect  of 
inducing  some  persons  to  relinquish  land  which  they 
were  unable  to  cultivate  themselves,  and  has  thus  thrown 
open  areas  for  occupation  by  other  cultivators  who  take 
up  the  land  under  direct  tenure  from  Government. 

Land  in  towns  in  Lower  Burma  is  held  partly 
under  grants  or  leases  made  in  accordance  with  rules 
promulgated  from  time  to  time,  and  partly  by  squatters ; 
and  there  is  no  law  under  which  fresh  rights  in  town 
lands  can  now  be  acquired.  In  Upper  Burma  there  is 
also  no  special  law  on  the  subject  of  town  lands,  though 
rules  modelled  on  those  in  force  in  Lower  Burma  were 
issued  in  1890  for  the  grant  of  leases  and  were  extended 
to  the  principal  towns. 

The  land  survey  system  adopted  about  twenty  years 
ago  by  the  Agricultural  Department  in  Lower  Burma 
was  a  cadastral  survey  consisting  of  an  exterior  survey 
by  theodolite,  in  connection  with  which  there  is  an 
interior  field-to-field  survey.  The  country  under  survey 
being  first  of  all  divided  into  large  circuits  or  polygons, 
the  geographical  position  of  each  of  these  is  carefully 
fixed  and  the  included  area  ascertained.  Each  circuit  is 
subdivided  into  minor  polygons,  whose  geographical 
position  and  area  are  likewise  carefully  determined. 
Within  these  minor  circuits  come  the  Kwin  or  local 
circuits  of  cultivation,  forming  polygons  rarely  exceeding 
one  to  two  and  a  half  square  miles  in  area,  which  are 
dealt  with  in  a  similar  exact  manner  as  to  boundaries, 
position,  and  area.  These  Kwin  are  simply  compact 
blocks  of  rice  cultivation  and  waste  land  of  convenient 
size,  situated  near  each  village  or  hamlet, — the  word 
Kwm,  meaning  "a  cleared  plain"  or  also  "a  circuit,  a 
ring,"  having  from  time  immemorial  been  used  to  denote 
something  like  the  village  or  communal  lands,  as  if 
enclosed  in  an  imaginary  ring-fence. 

When  the  accuracy  of  the  survey  has  been  proved  by 
repeated  check  processes,  resulting  in  the  perfect  agree- 
ment of  the  smallest,  the  intermediate,  and  the  largest 
circuits,  the  field  {Le)  is  entered  upon  it  as  the  unit  of 
survey.     This  is  a  square  or  rectangular  piece  of  paddy 



land  enclosed  by  low  ridges  thrown  up  for  the  purpose 
of  keeping  in  the  water,  upon  a  large  supply  of  which  the 
rice-cultivation  is  dependent.  These  ridges  are  called 
Kansinyb,  which  literally  means  "  straight  walls  forming 
a  water-tank."  The  fields  thus  divided  vary  in  extent 
from  about  a  quarter  of  an  acre  in  the  drier  districts  of 
Prome  and  Thayetmyo,  above  the  apex  of  the  Irrawaddy 
delta,  to  about  an  acre  in  extent  throughout  the  great 
moist  alluvial  plains  within  the  deltaic  zone.  Until  the 
aggregate  of  the  field  areas  corresponds  with  the  area  of 
the  Kwin  polygon,  the  field  survey  is  not  accepted  as 
correct.  Accuracy  of  detail  is  thus  guaranteed  by  the 
cadastral  survey,  before  further  operations  can  be  com- 
menced for  the  settlement  of  the  land  revenue. 

The  experience  acquired  during  the  last  twenty  years 
has  shown  that  the  adoption  of  the  field  as  the  unit  of 
survey  was  a  prudent  measure,  for  the  field-to-field  survey 
is  the  most  efficient  and  the  cheapest  method  that  could 
be  adopted.  Any  attempt  to  artificially  enlarge  this 
convenient  and  practical,  though  small,  unit  would  only 
increase  the  cost  of  the  detailed  survey  without  being 
compensated  either  by  greater  rapidity  in  survey  or 
greater  precision.  As  the  field  is  after  all  the  practical 
unit  of  cultivation,  and  of  all  movement  and  change  in 
cultivation,  no  artificial  limitation  or  determination  of  the 
unit  of  survey  could  prevent  the  field  from  stamping 
itself  as  the  main  practical  unit  on  the  map.  Even  with 
fields  averaging  only  one-third  of  an  acre  in  area,  a 
cadastral  survey  party  can  in  a  working  season  turn  out 
field-maps  for  from  seven  to  eight  hundred  square  miles 
of  country.  Begun  in  1879,  the  cadastral  survey  has 
now  been  completed  throughout  all  the  districts  in  Lower 

In  the  maintenance  of  the  cadastral  maps  and  the 
settlement  registers  from  year  to  year  a  supplementary 
survey  is  employed,  whose  operations  cover  the  whole 
area  surveyed,  and  consequently  extend  to  almost  the 
whole  of  the  regularly  cultivated  tracts  throughout  the 
older  portion  of  the  province. 

When  any  part  of  a  district  has  been  surveyed  and 
settled,  it  is  transferred  to  the  charge  of  this  Supplemen- 



tary  Survey  and  Registration  Department,  which  under- 
takes the  survey  and  mapping,  on  fresh  copies  of  the 
original  village  maps,  of  all  changes  and  extensions  ;  and 
it  also  prepares  and  maintains  registers  showing  the  areas 
of  these  changes  and  extensions,  holding  by  holding,  and 
their  resultingf  chano-es  in  the  assessments.  The 
methods  adopted  are  similar  to  those  of  the  cadastral 
survey  and  the  settlement,  so  that  the  work  of  this 
department  practically  consists  in  an  annual  revision  of 
the  areas  and  the  assessments  of  the  old  cultivation, 
together  with  an  annual  survey  and  assessment  of  the 
new  cultivation. 

Apart  from  the  administrative  advantage  of  having,  in 
a  conveniently  arranged  form,  the  mass  of  well  estab- 
lished facts  which  this  department  is  constantly  collect- 
ing year  by  year,  its  operations  are  rendered  necessary 
in  consequence  of  the  law  and  custom  governing  the 
acquisition,  cultivation,  and  assessment  of  land  in  Burma. 
As  the  land  is  free,  any  person  can,  after  obtaining  the 
requisite  permission,  and  without  further  let  or  hindrance, 
take  up  practically  as  much  new  land  as  he  or  she  pleases 
and  is  able  to  bring  under  cultivation.  Old  fields  may 
be  surrendered  in  whole  or  in  part,  or  may  be  left  fallow, 
or  may  be  let  out  to  tenants.  The  Government,  as  over- 
lord of  the  land  taken  up  under  grant,  does  not  interfere 
with  regard  to  movement  in  any  of  these  directions. 
The  revenue  demand  depends  on  the  area  of  land 
actually  cultivated  or  from  which  profit  is  derived,  fallow 
rates  being  imposed,  as  previously  mentioned,  only  in  the 
case  of  land-holding  non-agriculturists,  and  for  the 
express  purpose  of  trying  to  check  land-jobbing  by 
speculators.  In  order  to  adapt  the  assessment  to  this 
custom  of  free  cultivation,  the  entire  area  under  cultivation 
has  therefore  to  be  annually  examined,  each  and  every 
change  in  the  old  cultivation  that  can  effect  the  revenue 
demand  being  carefully  noted,  and  the  assessment  for  the 
current  year  modified  accordingly.  The  ground  broken 
for  new  cultivation  has  also  to  be  examined,  surveyed, 
and  plotted  on  the  maps  ;  the  respective  areas  have, 
holding  by  holding,  to  be  computed  ;  and  the  new  assess- 
ment rolls  have  to  be  prepared. 



The  system  of  settlement  for  the  assessment  of  the 
land-revenue  demand  was  also  begun  in  1879,  and  has 
since  then  been  carried  out  continuously,  until  it  has 
now  been  almost  completed  for  Lower  Burma.  The 
principle  adopted  consisted  in  acre  rates  based  upon  the 
ascertained  productivity  of  the  chief  varieties  of  soil  and 
fixed  for  a  term  of  years,  in  annual  survey  of  the  changes 
taking  place  in  area,  and  in  corresponding  adjustments 
of  the  assessment  on  each  individual  holding.  Thus, 
while  the  rates  remain  unaltered  throughout  a  term 
usually  fixed  at  fifteen  years,  the  assessments  on  indi- 
viduals may  vary  from  year  to  year  with  changes  in  the 
areas  of  their  holdings. 

Settlement  operations  are  conducted  by  selected  junior 
members  of  the  Commission,  who  remain  for  several 
years  deputed  on  this  special  duty.  The  control  and 
administration  of  operations  are  vested  in  a  Settlement 
Commissioner,  who  is  directly  subordinate  to  the  Finan- 
cial Commissioner.  At  the  time  of  the  settlement,  the 
holding  of  each  cultivator  is  registered  field  by  field,  and 
a  record  is  made  of  the  cultivator's  status,  in  which  it  is 
shown  whether  he  be  a  landholder  by  prescription  (from 
original  squatting  rights),  a  grantee,  a  lessee,  a  tenant,  or 
a  mortgagee.  The  area  of  each  field  and  the  total  area 
of  each  holding  are  also  noted.  All  these  details  are 
entered  in  a  principal  settlement  register,  which  practi- 
cally forms  a  basis  for  all  subsequent  statistics  as  well 
as  for  readjustments  of  the  assessments  on  each  holding. 
This  settlement  register,  in  fact,  represents  the  exact 
state  of  each  holding  during  the  year  in  which  the  settle- 
ment takes  place. 

In  the  year  following  that  in  which  the  settlement  is 
carried  out,  the  duty  of  maintaining  the  land  records  is 
assumed,  as  already  described,  by  the  Supplementary 
Survey  and  Registration  Department,  which  ascertains 
any  changes  that  have  taken  place  in  the  state  of  each 
holding,  and  records  them  in  a  register  which  is  the 
counterpart  of  the  original  settlement  register.  Should 
it  happen  that  the  cultivator  has  enlarged  his  holding  by 
bringing  some  of  the  existing  waste  land  under  the 
plough  or  by  purchasing  a  field  from  a  neighbour,  he  is 



assessed  on  the  increased  area,  while  a  corresponding 
reduction  is  made  in  the  case  of  a  cultivator  who  has 
meanwhile  sold  or  surrendered  any  portion  of  his  former 
area  under  cultivation.  The  original  settlement  and  the 
subsequent  annual  supplementary  registers  and  assess- 
ments thus  record  from  year  to  year  the  entire  history 
of  each  holding.  By  this  simple  process  of  addition 
and  subtraction  each  holding  should,  at  the  end  of 
the  term  for  which  the  rates  have  been  fixed,  be  found 
just  as  correctly  recorded  as  the  original  holdings 
were  when  the  settlement  operations  were  first 
carried  out. 

The  rates  of  assessment  fixed  at  the  time  of  settle- 
ment are  arrived  at  after  careful  inquiry  by  the  settlement 
officers  over  wide  and  varied  tracts,  and  are  based  on 
the  actual  quality  and  productivity  of  the  land  as  ascer- 
tained by  careful  harvesting  and  measurement  of  the 
grain  in  several  hundreds  of  fields.  The  results  thus 
obtained  in  kind  are  then  transformed  into  their  money 
valuation  at  rates  deduced  from  the  average  prices  of 
produce  for  several  years  back.  Wherever  substantial 
differences  are  found  in  the  quality  or  crop-producing 
power  of  the  soil,  the  patches  of  inferior  land  are  marked 
off  from  those  of  superior  quality,  and  separate  rates  are 
fixed  in  proportion  to  the  ascertained  differences  in  pro- 
ductive capacity. 

Until  within  the  last  few  years  it  had  been  the  custom 
in  Lower  Burma  that  the  cultivator  should  only  pay  the 
full  assessment  rates  on  the  area  actually  under  crop. 
He  could  leave  uncultivated  as  much  of  his  holding  as 
he  liked,  and  on  this  uncultivated  portion  a  merely 
nominal  rate  of  assessment  of  two  annas  or  twopence  an 
acre  was  imposed  as  a  sort  of  quitrent,  upon  payment  of 
which  the  cultivator  retained  all  his  rights  in  the  land. 
It  was  thus  fallow  only  in  the  obsolete  meaning  of  this 
agricultural  term,  because  it  was  unsown  and  neglected  ; 
but  it  was  not  ploughed  and  left  an  open  fallow  as  the 
term  is  now  used  in  England.  A  fallow  field  in  Burma 
is  one  that  is  left  untouched  after  a  paddy  crop  has  been 
reaped  from  it,  and  remains  unploughed  till  the  cultivator 
feels  inclined  to  take  another  crop  from   it.     The  usual 



reason  for  letting  land  lie  idle  in  this  way  is  that  the 
owner  is  either  unwilling  or  unable  to  cultivate  it.  This 
low  two-anna  rate  on  so-called  fallows  is  still  maintained, 
though  the  extent  of  its  application  has  been  considerably 
curtailed  owing  to  the  increase  in  the  value  of  land  and 
the  growth  of  a  landlord  class.  The  two-anna  rate  is 
consequently  now  only  levied  on  the  whole  or  any  part 
of  a  holding  which  is  left  uncultivated  either  for  the 
purpose  of  allowing  the  soil  to  recover  from  slight 
temporary  exhaustion  or  because  the  owner  is  unable  to 
cultivate  it  through  causes  beyond  his  control,  such  as 
illness,  deaths  in  his  family,  loss  of  cattle,  or  the  like. 
An  assessment  varying  from  two  annas  per  acre  up  to  the 
normal  rate  for  cultivated  land  is,  at  the  discretion  of  the 
Deputy  Commissioner,  now  levied  from  land  left  unculti- 
vated for  grazing  purposes,  or  which  remains  uncultivated 
in  any  year  after  having  been  generally  sublet  during  the 
previous  five  years,  or  which,  after  having  been  granted 
with  exemption  from  revenue  for  a  term  of  years,  has  not 
been  brougrht  under  cultivation  within  a  reasonable 
period,  or  which  has  otherwise  been  a  source  of  profit  to 
the  owner  during  the  year  of  assessment.  That  full 
rates  of  assessment  have  within  the  past  few  years,  with 
the  view  of  checking  land-jobbing,  been  demanded  on  all 
fallows  held  by  non-agriculturists  and  all  uncropped  land 
belonging  to  absentee  landlords,  has  already  been 

When  crops  have  been  wholly  or  partially  destroyed 
by  inundations,  or  drought,  or  any  other  cause  beyond 
the  cultivator's  control,  remissions  of  land  revenue  are 
granted.  No  remission  is  made  unless  the  damage  to 
the  crop  causes  a  loss  exceeding  one-third  of  the  esti- 
mated average  full  crop  of  the  holding.  If  the  whole,  or 
nearly  the  whole,  of  the  crop  has  been  destroyed,  the 
whole  of  the  revenue  is  remitted  ;  but,  otherwise,  the 
remission  is  proportioned  to  the  extent  of  the  partial  loss. 
Though  quite  distinct  from  abatements  on  account  of 
fallows,  the  two  kinds  of  remission  often  coincide  in 

The  system  of  settlement  thus  sketched  has  been 
carried   out    in   strict   accordance    with    the  agricultural 



usages  of  the  province,  the  customs  of  the  people  being 
duly  recognized  and  placed  on  record.  While  no 
restrictions,  not  previously  imposed,  have  been  placed  on 
the  free  exercise  of  their  rights  and  privileges,  all  that  is 
traditional  and  of  advantage  to  the  peasantry  has  been 
maintained  and  properly  regulated.  A  villager  may 
cultivate  as  much  land  as  he  likes  ;  but  he  only  pays  land 
revenue  on  the  area  which  he  crops,  or  from  which  he 
derives  rent  or  other  profit  or  advantage.  The  system 
of  annual  supplementary  survey  and  registration  intro- 
duced ensures  prompt  adjustment  of  the  assessment 
according  to  changes  in  the  area  cultivated  each  year  ; 
and  by  thus  ensuring  due  elasticity  in.  the  land-revenue 
demand,  it  also  permits  of  free  exercise  of  the  individual 
right  to  extend  or  curtail  cultivation  according  to  personal 
circumstances  for  the  time  beingf. 

In  Upper  Burma  the  system  of  survey  is  practically 
the  same  as  in  the  lower  portion  of  the  province,  the 
field  being  again  taken  as  the  unit.  The  only  important 
difference  is  that,  in  place  of  a  Kwin,  the  unit  of  assess- 
ment is  the  Ywd  or  "  village,"  consisting  of  the  collection 
of  houses  forming  the  hamlet  or  village  proper,  together 
with  the  land  belonging  to  the  villagers  and  under  the 
jurisdiction  of  the  village  headman. 

The  work  of  the  cadastral  survey  in  Upper  Burma 
was  commenced  in  the  Kyaukse  district  in  November, 
1889,  under  considerable  difficulties.  The  native  Indian 
subordinates,  new  to  the  country,  and  in  constant  fear  of 
being  attacked  and  cut  up  by  dacoits,  were  most  reluctant 
to  venture  out  of  their  camps,  and  large  numbers  of  the 
surveyors  and  chainmen  were  unable  to  work  owing  to 
malarial  fever.  The  nature  of  the  country  and  the 
novelty  of  the  peculiar  circumstances  under  which  work 
had  to  be  done  also  retarded  progress  at  first ;  for  the 
village  boundaries  were  usually  irrigation  channels,  the 
banks  of  which  were  clothed  with  a  thick  fringe  of  dense 
scrub  jungle,  while  all  through  the  dry  season  the  rice- 
fields  were  flooded  by  irrigation. 

The  system  of  supplementary  survey  and  registration 
in  Upper  Burma  is  practically  the  same  as  in  Lower 
Burma,  but  the  system  of  settlement  differs  considerably 



owing  to  the  local  circumstances  and  customs.  In  Lower 
Burma  one  settlement  officer  deals  finally  with  an  area 
of  about  six  hundred  square  miles  in  each  year ;  but  in 
Upper  Burma,  aided  by  several  assistants,  he  deals  with 
an  area  of  three  to  four  times  that  extent,  over  which  his 
operations  extend  for  three  years.  During  this  time  he 
and  his  assistants  record  tenures,  harvest  and  measure 
crops  from  sample  areas,  and  collect  agricultural  statistics 
over  the  whole  area,  fresh  test  measurements  and  fresh 
statistics  being  collected  over  the  same  area  in  each  year. 
At  the  end  of  the  third  year  the  settlement  officer  sub- 
mits his  report  embodying  the  information  collected  and 
the  conclusions  drawn  by  him  therefrom,  and  proposing 
rates  for  assessment. 

With  respect  to  details  in  procedure  the  work  of  the 
settlement  officer  also  differs  considerably  from  the 
practice  in  force  in  Lower  Burma,  being  much  more  diffi- 
cult and  varied.  In  Lower  Burma  there  are  practically 
only  one  agricultural  season,  from  June  till  December, 
only  one  kind  of  crop,  paddy  or  rice,  and  only  one  kind 
of  tenure,  peasant  proprietorship,  to  be  dealt  with  ;  and 
the  field  operations  of  the  settlement  officer  are  restricted 
to  the  dry  season  from  December  till  April  or  May,  while 
he  has  no  direct  concern  with  the  non-cultivating  classes 
of  the  people.  In  Upper  Burma,  however,  there  are 
at  least  three  separate  agricultural  seasons  for  rice-culti- 
vation alone — the  Kmikkyi  or  ordinary  rainy  season  crop, 
grown  on  land  watered  by  rainfall  or  irrigation  ;  the 
Kaukti,  grown  on  irrigated  lands,  usually  as  a  second 
crop  on  the  Kaukkyi  land,  between  February  and  June  ; 
and  the  Mayin  or  hot-weather  crop,  grown  on  swampy 
land  and  reaped  in  May.  There  are  also  many  varieties 
of  field  crops  (rice,  maize,  chillies,  peas,  grain,  wheat,  etc.) 
and  several  kinds  of  land  tenure  to  be  considered  ;  and 
in  most  districts,  owing  to  the  comparative  lightness  of 
the  rainfall,  field  operations  can  be  conducted  throughout 
the  whole  twelve  months  of  the  year.  And,  finally,  an 
important  part  of  the  work  is  to  adjust,  with  reference 
to  the  non-agricultural  classes,  the  Thdtham^dd  or  house- 
tax  to  be  levied  from  the  trading  and  non-cultivating 
portion  of  the  population. 



This  tax,  introduced  by  King  Mindon  into  Upper 
Burma,  was  retained  by  the  British  Government  on  the 
annexation,  and  still  forms  the  principal  tax  there.  Its 
incidence  usually  amounts  to  ten  rupees  (13^".  ^d.)  per 
house,  though  in  exceptional  cases  it  is  less  than  this. 
Thus,  the  Shan  communities  in  the  Bhamo  district  pay 
only  five  rupees  (6s.  8d.)  per  household,  in  consequence 
of  this  special  rate  having  been  fixed  in  Burmese  times. 
Residents  in  two  townships  of  the  Kyaukse  district  were 
accustomed  to  be  assessed  at  a  reduced  rate  of  six  rupees 
(Ss.)  per  house,  owing  to  their  being  required  to  turn  out 
and  repair  breaches  in  canals  without  receiving  remunera- 
tion for  their  labour ;  but  this  unsatisfactory  system  was 
abolished  in  1893.  Those  cultivating  above  seven  acres 
of  royal  land  were  altogether  exempt  from  the  tax. 
Throughout  the  hill  tracts  inhabited  by  Karens  in  the 
Yamethin  district  the  rate  varies  from  three  to  four 
rupees  (4s.  to  5^.  ^d.)  per  house. 

The  tax  is  now  assessed  in  much  the  same  manner  as 
formerly.  The  Thugyi  or  village  headman  reports  the 
number  of  houses  in  his  village.  This  statement  is 
checked  by  the  My6  Thugyi  or  headman  of  a  circle,  in 
districts  where  there  are  such  officers,  or  else  by  the 
My6  Ok  or  township  magistrate,  the  Akunwmt  or  native 
revenue  officer  of  the  district,  and  the  district  ofificer  and 
his  subdivisional  assistants.  The  sum  due  from  each 
village  having  been  fixed,  Thamddi  or  assessors  (lit. 
"  ascertainers  of  truth  "),  corresponding  to  the  village 
elders,  determine  the  amount  to  be  contributed  by  each 
householder ;  and,  as  a  rule,  there  are  no  serious  objec- 
tions raised  to  the  individual  incidence  of  the  tax  under 
the  operations  of  the  assessors.  Special  exemptions  are 
given  during  years  of  scarcity,  or  whenever  exceptional 
reasons  exist  for  not  demanding  the  usual  full  amount ; 
while  religious  recluses,  public  officials,  and  all  persons 
incapable  of  earning  their  own  livelihood  are  exempt 
from  any  contribution. 

The  revenue  law  of  Upper  Burma  provides  for  the 
levy  of  Thdtha7nMd  on  all  classes  of  the  population,  for 
the  assessment  of  rent  on  State  land,  and  for  the  assess- 
ment of  revenue  on  non-State  land.     But  as  no  revenue 

289  u 


was  assessed  on  land  of  the  latter  class  by  the  Burmese 
Government,  the  British  revenue  law  recognizes  this  fact 
by  authorizing  that  when  revenue  is  levied  on  such  land 
the  owners  of  the  same  may  obtain  exemption  from  or 
reduction  of  the  Thdtham^dd.  The  work  of  the  settle- 
ment officer  in  Upper  Burma  is  therefore  threefold, 
namely,  (i)  to  draw  up  a  record  of  rights  and  occupation 
in  land,  (2)  to  propose  rates  for  the  assessment  of  all  cul- 
tivated lands,  in  the  form  of  rent  for  State  land  and 
revenue  for  non- State  land,  and  (3)  to  submit  proposals 
for  the  adjustment  of  the  ThdthamMd  on  the  non-agricul- 
tural classes  and  on  those  classes  whose  livelihood 
depends  only  partly  on  agriculture  and  mainly  on  other 

The  first  section  of  these  settlement  duties  includes 
the  ascertaining  and  recording  of  the  exact  area  of  land 
owned  or  occupied  by  each  person,  and  the  kind  of  tenure 
upon  which  it  is  held  or  occupied.  These  facts  are 
entered  in  registers  and  become  the  records-of-rights 
which  have  under  the  Land  Regulation  to  be  maintained 
throughout  Upper  Burma. 

The  assessment  of  rent  and  revenue  is  based  upon 
deductions  drawn  from  the  information  collected  as  to  the 
productivity  of  the  soil,  the  cost  of  cultivation,  and  the 
value  of  the  produce.  With  reference  to  the  final  section 
of  the  settlement  officer's  duties,  information  is  collected 
as  to  the  occupations  and  means  of  livelihood  of  the 
people  with  a  view  to  determining  what  amount  of 
Thdthamddd  can  equitably  be  demanded  from  them  after 
revenue  has  been  assessed  on  non- State  land.  The  main 
principles  that  have  been  laid  down  for  his  guidance  are, 
firstly,  that  persons  dependent  solely  on  agriculture  are 
to  be  exempted  from  the  house-tax ;  secondly,  that 
persons  who,  though  partly  dependent  on  agriculture, 
derive  the  substantial  portion  of  their  income  from 
other  sources,  are  to  pay  ThdthamMd  at  a  reduced  rate  ; 
and,  thirdly,  that  persons  who  derive  the  whole  of  their 
income  from  other  sources  than  agriculture  are  to  pay  the 
house-tax  to  the  same  extent  as  before  the  settlement. 

Following  these  principles,  the  settlement  officer 
utilizes  the  statistics  he  has  carefully  collected  in  drawing 



up  proposals  for  exempting  the  purely  agricultural  section 
of  the  population  altogether  from  the  Thdthamddd,  for  re- 
ducing it  in  amount  in  the  case  of  those  partially  dependent 
on  cultivation  of  the  land,  and  for  assessing  to  the  full 
amount  those  earning  their  livelihood  by  trades,  handi- 
crafts, and  the  like.  The  rates  thus  fixed  at  settlement 
include  the  rent  rates  assessed  on  State  land,  the  revenue 
rates  assessed  on  non- State  land,  and  the  house-tax  rates 
assessed  on  income  derived  otherwise  than  from  aericul- 
ture.  These  rates  vary  from  about  one  rupee  to  three 
rupees  (i^.  \d.  to  \s.)  per  acre  on  the  different  qualities 
of  rice  lands,  due  consideration  being  of  course  given  to 
the  various  localities  and  their  lines  of  communication 
with  the  great  centres  of  the  rice  export  trade. 

The  proposals  made  by  the  settlement  officer  for  the 
assessment  of  the  land  revenue  are  not  accepted  without 
the  most  careful  scrutiny,  or  without  measures  being  taken 
to  safeguard  the  interests  of  the  people  on  the  one  hand 
and  of  the  Government  on  the  other.  The  settlement 
officer  submits  his  report  to  the  Commissioner  of  the 
division,  who  forwards  it  with  his  remarks  and  criticisms 
to  the  Settlement  Commissioner.  Here  it  is  again  scruti- 
nized very  carefully  before  being  submitted  for  the  con- 
sideration of  the  Lieutenant-Governor  and  for  the 
requisite  orders  as  to  notification  in  the  official  gazette 
when  sanction  has  been  accorded  to  the  proposals.  How 
great  is  the  care  bestowed  on  this  important  work  may 
be  judged  from  the  fact  that  the  settlement  pro- 
posals for  the  Mandalay  district,  in  which  operations  were 
begun  in  1890,  were  only  sanctioned  at  the  very  close 
of  December,  1896  ;  and  before  sanction  had  been 
accorded  the  whole  matter  had  been  twice  submitted  by 
the  Chief  Commissioner  to  the  Government  of  India, 
once  in  the  form  of  a  minute  by  Sir  Alexander  Macken- 
zie, and  again  in  the  shape  of  a  note  by  Sir  Frederic 
Fryer.  And  when  finally  sanctioned,  the  rates  of  assess- 
ments were  only  approved  for  a  term  of  five  years  in 
place  of  the  usual  fifteen  years  for  which  the  settlement 
is  generally  fixed. 

In  this  case  of  the  Mandalay  district,  however,  special 
conditions  and  circumstances  obtained.     It  was  the  first 



district  coming  under  settlement  in  the  new  province ; 
and  it  was  the  first  time  in  the  history  of  the  land-revenue 
settlement  that  what  might  be  called  a  precarious  tract  of 
country  had  to  be  dealt  with,  where  the  rainfall  is  ordi- 
narily small  and  capricious,  and  where,  except  in  a 
comparatively  limited  area  under  irrigation,  a  remunera- 
tive paddy  crop  could  only  be  reckoned  on  once  every 
two  or  three  years.  And  yet  so  strong  is  the  hold  of 
custom  on  the  Burmese  cultivator  that  he  prefers  persist- 
ing in  the  effort  to  grow  paddy  rather  than  change  to  the 
cultivation  of  other  cereals,  for  which  the  climate  and  the 
physical  conditions  of  the  soil  are  really  much  better 
adapted,  and  for  which  a  fair  market  demand  exists. 
Save  in  the  alluvial  tracts  and  the  lands'under  permanent 
irrigation,  the  condition  of  agriculture  throughout  the 
Mandalay  district  was  therefore  at  the  time  of  the  recent 
settlement  little  better  than  chaotic  and  uncertain.  The 
average  size  of  the  holdings  was  extremely  small,  ranging 
from  about  three  to  five  acres  only,  and  in  consequence 
of  this  the  mass  of  the  peasantry  found  themselves  forced 
to  supplement  their  earnings  from  agriculture  by  other 
occupations.  Thus,  in  the  vicinity  of  Mandalay,  the 
cultivators  would  in  bad  years  readily  abandon  their 
fields  for  work  of  any  description,  such  as  earth-work  on 
roads  or  embankments,  cartage,  grass-cutting,  and 

The  care  and  consideration  given  to  the  first  settle- 
ment operations  in  the  Mandalay  and  the  Kyaukse  dis- 
tricts were  necessitated  by  the  fact  that  the  Government 
recognized  the  land-revenue  settlement  to  be  at  the  time 
a  matter  of  vital  and  permanent  importance  to  the  people 
of  Upper  Burma.  The  general  standard  of  living  had, 
of  course,  to  be  carefully  considered.  This  not  only 
varies  greatly  from  year  to  year,  but  also  fluctuates  from 
week  to  week,  being  highest  just  after  the  harvest  has 
been  reaped  and  garnered.  On  the  whole,  however,  it 
is  below  the  average  standard  throughout  the  settled 
tracts  in  Lower  Burma.  In  1891-92,  when  several  dis- 
tricts in  Upper  Burma  suffered  from  scarcity  of  food 
owing  to  insufficient  rainfall,  the  standard  of  living  in  the 
poorer  townships  of  the  Mandalay  district  fell  to  a  very 



low  level  indeed.  There  was  no  actual  starvation,  for  a 
district  with  so  many  resources  as  Mandalay  could 
hardly  sink  to  anything  like  complete  destitution,  but  the 
effects  of  a  succession  of  poor  harvests  were  nevertheless 
distinctly  noticeable.  In  the  rural  parts  of  the  Lamaing 
and  Amarapura  townships  luxuries  had  to  be  eschewed, 
silk  clothes  being  dispensed  with,  and  but  little  betel  or 
tobacco  being  consumed  ;  while  in  the  poorer  tracts  the 
peasantry  were  driven  to  live  on  the  very  margin  of  sub- 
sistence. The  rice  for  food  was  eked  out  by  adding  one- 
fourth  to  one-half  of  millet ;  and  to  this  change  of  fare  the 
chief  objectors  were  the  Pongyi,  or  monastic  body  of 
religious  mendicants  wearing  the  yellow  robe  of  poverty 
and  professing  contempt  for  all  the  material  comforts  of 
life.  The  people  themselves  bore  their  trials  well ;  and 
the  mixture  of  millet  and  rice  was  in  itself  palatable 
enough.  By  1893  the  standard  of  living  had  again  risen, 
though  not  to  the  fair  degree  of  comfort  which  is  reported 
to  have  obtained  while  King  Mindon  held  court  in 
Mandalay,  the  time  to  which  the  high  level  record  is 
ascribed.  During  Thibaw's  reign  fluctuations  took  place 
from  year  to  year  according  to  the  rainfall  and  the 
harvest.  The  revenue  settlement  and  the  irrigation 
works  now  in  course  of  construction  should,  however, 
raise  the  general  standard  considerably  above  what  it 
has  ever  been. 

Reference  has  already  been  made  to  the  transfer  of  the 
land,  particularly  in  the  deltaic  tracts  of  Lower  Burma, 
from  the  hands  of  agriculturists  to  those  of  traders  and 
money-lenders,  which  may  be  looked  upon  as  practically 
synonymous  terms,  for  these  men  never  cultivate  the 
land  themselves.  Within  the  richer  tracts  opened  up  and 
brought  within  easy  reach  of  large  towns  by  railway  and 
river- steamers,  a  standard  of  luxury  previously  unknown 
has  gradually  been  asserting  itself.  Though  still  as 
frugal  as  formerly  in  his  food,  the  Burmese  cultivator  is 
now  more  lavish  in  his  expenditure  on  clothes  and 
household  comforts.  Besides  his  cheap  cotton  garments 
for  ordinary  work-a-day  use,  he  invariably  has  one  or 
more  holiday  suits,  always  of  silk  and  often  of  rich  pattern 
and    costly    texture,    while    his    wife    and    children    are 



decked  with  gold  ornaments  on  holidays  and  festivals. 
In  place  of  a  bamboo  house  roofed  with  thatch-grass, 
he  laudably  endeavours  to  build  a  substantial  wooden 
house,  and  often  roofs  it  with  corrugated  iron ;  but  he 
makes  the  mistake  of  generally  becoming  tainted  with  a 
tendency  towards  humble  imitation  of  English  manners 
and  customs,  in  which  respect  he  is  merely  following  the 
lead  of  his  more  advanced  relatives  in  the  towns. 
Though  the  peasant  has  not  yet  taken  to  wearing  socks 
or  stockings  and  patent  leather  shoes,  like  most  of  the 
up-to-date  Burmese  in  Rangoon  and  the  other  great  trad- 
ing centres,  yet  he  apparently  feels  impelled  to  acquire 
tables,  chairs,  bedsteads,  lamps,  glasses,  and  the  like,  for 
the  adornment  of  his  house.  Curiously  enough,  this 
tendency  is  nowhere  more  noticeable  than  among  the 
Pongyi  or  religious  body,  the  ultra-conservative  devotees 
of  Buddhism  vowed  to  a  life  of  poverty  and  extreme 
simplicity,  whose  monasteries  are  often  filled  with  articles 
of  luxury,  the  use  of  which  was  formerly  quite  unknown 
to  the  Burmese. 

Though  as  a  rule  happy,  contented,  and  fairly  well  off 
on  the  whole,  the  Burmese  agriculturist  can  seldom  be 
said  to  be  in  anything  like  affluent  circumstances.  As 
soon  as  he  sells  the  surplus  of  his  crop  he  spends  his 
money  freely,  either  in  works  of  religious  merit  for  his 
own  personal  benefit  in  the  next  life,  or  else  in  jewellery, 
clothes,  amusements,  or  gambling.  He  rarely  forms  any 
reserve  of  savings  to  fall  back  upon  when  temporarily 
embarrassed,  and  usually  has  nothing  in  the  shape  of 
capital  except  his  land,  his  house,  and  his  plough- cattle. 
The  rest  of  his  possessions,  such  as  agricultural  imple- 
ments and  household  chattels,  have  little  or  no  market 
value.  Very  frequently  the  best  evidence  of  the  pros- 
perity of  the  Burmese  cultivator  is  to  be  found  in  the 
number  of  cattle  he  possesses  ;  for  he  can  always  hire 
them  out  at  substantially  profitable  rates  during  the 
ploughing  season,  if  he  does  not  require  them  for  his 
own  land.  The  Karens  who  have  settled  on  the  plains 
in  the  Bassein  and  Thongwa  districts  are  of  a  much  more 
saving  and  careful  disposition.  This  is  no  doubt  mainly 
owing  to  their  being  mosdy  converts  from  spirit- worship 



to  Christianity,  neither  of  which  involves  the  expenditure 
of  large  sums  on  works  of  religious  merit  so  essential  to 
the  equanimity  of  the  Buddhist  Burmese,  Besides 
lavish  outlay  on  priests,  monasteries,  pagodas,  shrines,  etc., 
and  on  dress,  the  prosperous  Burmese  agriculturist  will 
generally  soon  dissipate  his  ready  money  in  theatrical 
performances  in  the  open  air  during  the  period  immedi- 
ately following  the  garnering  of  the  grain  between 
December  and  February.  At  this  season  boats  and 
carts  conveying  troupes  of  performers  are  everywhere  to 
be  met  travelling  from  village  to  village.  They  obtain 
as  much  as  300  to  400  rupees  (^20  to  ^26f)  for  two  or 
three  nights'  entertainment  at  villages  or  hamlets,  which 
at  a  cursory  glance  might  be  described  as  poverty- 
stricken  collections  of  huts.  Throughout  the  country 
generally  the  appearance  of  a  village  is  no  criterion  of  its 
wealth,  squalid  houses  being  found  as  frequently  in  the 
richer  as  in  the  poorer  tracts. 

Thus,  even  when  otherwise  really  well  off,  the  Bur- 
mese agriculturist  suffers  from  a  chronic  want  of  ready 
money,  occasioned  partly  by  his  hereditary  improvidence, 
vanity,  and  love  of  amusement,  and  partly  by  his 
religious  impulses.  When  in  want  of  cash  to  pay 
labourers,  to  meet  the  capitation- tax  during  the  rainy 
season,  or  to  purchase  commodities  like  salt,  salted  fish, 
tobacco,  and  so  forth,  he  finds  little  difficulty  in  borrow- 
ing from  traders,  brokers,  or  professional  money-lenders 
{Chetties).  Interest  is  usually  at  the  rate  of  four  to  five  per 
cent,  per  mensem,  although  in  some  localities  loans 
can  be  obtained  at  a  lower  rate  consequent  on  the 
facilities  for  borrowing  offered  by  a  larger  number  of 
traders.  The  lowest  rate  of  interest,  about  three  per 
cent,  per  mensem,  is  obtainable  on  deposit  of  gold 
ornaments  exceeding  in  value  the  amount  lent.  In  such 
a  case  the  creditor  can  easily  obtain  an  additional  profit 
by  lending  out  the  pledged  gold  ornaments  at  a  remu- 
nerative rate  on  holidays  and  festivals.  Cattle  disease, 
inducing  exceptional  mortality,  is  often  the  direct  cause 
of  indebtedness,  as  well  as  extravagance  and  gambling ; 
but  the  great  facility  with  which  loans  can  be  obtained, 
even  although  at  an   exorbitant  rate  of  interest,  is    in 



itself,  next  to  the  hereditary  and  characteristic  improvi- 
dence of  the  Burmese,  the  chief  cause  of  indebtedness. 

These  inordinately  high  rates  of  interest  even  induce 
speculators  to  borrow  from  capitalists  on  pledge  of  gold 
at  thirty  to  forty  per  cent,  for  the  purpose  of  lending  out 
to  cultivators  on  mortgage  of  land.  Self-denial  and 
thrift  finding  no  place  in  the  Burmese  character,  if  the 
cultivator  wish  for  money  he  will  pay  an  exorbitant 
rate  of  interest  for  it.  As  money  can  be  laid  out  in 
many  ways  with  certainty  of  excellent  profit,  there  is 
practically  no  competition  among  small  money-lending 
capitalists ;  and  so  long  as  this  state  of  affairs  exists  the 
usual  percentage  is  little  likely  to  confine  itself  within  any- 
thing like  reasonable  limits.  The  rates  of  interest 
sanctioned  by  the  Laws  of  Manii,  the  ancient  statute  law, 
were  one  per  cent,  for  poor  agriculturists,  two  per  cent,  for 
cultivators  in  general,  four  per  cent,  for  those  who  were 
well  to  do,  and  five  per  cent,  for  traders  in  any  large  way 
of  business. 

The  average  amount  of  indebtedness  among  the 
majority  of  agriculturists  who  are  unable  to  make  both 
ends  meet  during  any  given  year  varies  from  about  lOO 
to  150  rupees  {;C^3  to  ;^io).  Though  not  in  itself  a 
large  sum,  this  is  just  sufficient  to  hamper  them  consider- 
ably, through  the  high  rate  of  interest  current.  Where 
the  land  is  fertile,  the  cultivator  can  usually  easily 
extricate  himself  from  his  difficulties,  because  a  good 
harvest  enables  him  to  discharge  the  liabilities  incurred 
during  the  previous  year.  If  he  cannot  manage  to  free 
himself  in  one  year,  two  or  three  good  harvests  should 
see  him  again  unencumbered.  But  when  the  soil  is 
poor,  or  when  there  is  heavy  mortality  among  cattle, 
matters  become  complicated.  The  land  then  hardly 
yields  enough  to  support  the  cultivator  and  his  family, 
and  there  is  no  surplus  crop  available  for  the  clearance 
of  debt.  Renewal  of  the  old  loan,  and  perhaps  even  the 
additional  burden  of  a  new  advance,  weigh  him  down 
more  heavily  in  the  following  year,  and  he  gradually  falls 
into  a  chronic  state  of  indebtedness  from  which  he  can 
only  escape  by  giving  up  his  property  to  his  creditors,  or 
by  abandoning  his  lands  and  home  and  making  a  moon- 



light  flitting  to  break  fresh  ground  in  another  part  of  the 
country  in  the  hope  of  there  being  free  from  his  creditors. 
But  cases  of  absolute  insolvency  are  fortunately,  how- 
ever, of  exceptional  occurrence.  In  this  respect  Burma 
happily  differs  essentially  from  the  more  thickly  popu- 
lated portions  of  India.  Such  cases  of  hopeless  in- 
debtedness as  do  occur,  and  mostly  for  comparatively 
small  amounts,  are  generally  due  to  illness  of  the 
cultivator  and  his  family,  loss  of  cattle  through  disease, 
and  gambling,  or  to  a  combination  of  these  or  similar 

As  yet  the  Burmese  agriculturists  have  practically  no 
legal  protection  against  the  usury  of  money-lenders. 
Excessive  as  the  customary  sixty  per  cent,  rate  of  interest 
is,  the  money-lenders  not  infrequently  make  their 
creditors  sign  extortionate  bonds  acknowledging  the 
receipt  of  sums  amounting  even  to  three  or  four  times 
the  money  actually  advanced,  and  the  usurers  thereupon 
proceed  to  register  these  documents  under  the  Registra- 
tion Act.  After  the  harvest  the  creditors  generally 
obtain  repayment  as  soon  as  the  paddy  is  threshed,  before 
the  grain  is  removed  from  the  threshingfloor,  the  rate  per 
hundred  baskets  having  been  determined  beforehand. 
Thus,  the  results  of  inquiries  made  about  December  or 
January  invariably  show  a  much  smaller  proportion  of 
indebtedness  than  statistics  collected  before  the  harvest- 
ing and  threshing  of  the  paddy  crop  in  these  months. 
If  the  seizure  of  the  crop  in  this  way  leaves  little  or  no 
margin  for  the  requirements  of  the  cultivator,  the 
creditors  will  often  promise  to  lend  money  for  the 
payment  of  the  land-revenue  demand  and  other  ordinary 
expenditure.  But  when  the  time  of  collection  comes,  they 
refuse  to  fulfil  their  promises  ;  and  the  cultivator,  having 
no  crop  to  sell,  either  sinks  deeper  into  debt  or  sees  his 
land  sold  up  to  satisfy  the  rapacity  of  the  money-lender. 
Owing  to  want  of  ready  money,  to  loss  of  credit,  and  to 
the  inconvenience  of  leaving  their  homes  at  harvest- 
time,  the  agriculturists  generally  refuse  to  apply  to  the 
civil  courts  for  redress ;  for  they  believe  that  the  false 
and  extortionate  bonds  signed  by  them  must  have,  in 
consequence  of  registration  by  the  usurers,  received  the 



formal  sanction  of  Government,  so  that  they  cannot  be 
disputed  or  cancelled.  Moreover,  such  a  procedure 
would  hardly  be  consistent  with  Burmese  notions,  for  the 
Burmese  peasant  has  hereditary  and  intuitive  knowledge 
of  the  enormous  difficulty  of  proving  a  negative.  It 
would  seem  much  easier  and  far  more  reasonable  to  him 
to  bring  a  dozen  or  a  score  of  witnesses  to  prove  that  he 
repaid  the  money  with  interest  to  his  creditor,  than  to 
attempt  to  show  that  he  had  actually  received  only  one- 
fourth  or  one-third  of  the  amount  for  which  the  money- 
lender forced  him,  under  pressure  of  want  of  money,  to 
sign  a  receipt  or  to  make  his  mark  by  way  of  acknow- 

In  the  interests  of  the  Burmese  peasantry  it  is  much 
to  be  regretted  that  the  Registration  Act  in  Lower 
Burma  should  have  been  extended  to  the  interior  of 
districts  where  the  rural  population  is  exceedingly 
ignorant  and  quite  incapable  of  understanding  the  objects 
of  such  an  enactment.  Its  effects  have  certainly  been  to 
enable  unscrupulous  men  of  the  trading  and  money- 
lending  class  to  enforce  fraudulent  contracts  against  their 
more  ignorant  neighbours  and  other  borrowers. 

To  obviate  fraud  in  this  way  and  to  enable  the 
cultivators  to  obtain  advances  for  specific  purposes,  as, 
for  example,  the  purchase  of  plough  cattle  after  loss 
through  epidemic  disease,  agricultural  advances  are 
obtainable  from  Government  at  a  low  rate  of  interest. 
But  much  more  than  that  is  required  to  place  matters  on 
a  sound  footing.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the 
greatest  blessing  which  could  be  bestowed  at  present 
upon  the  Burmese  peasantry  is,  in  addition  to  the 
Tenancy  Bill  now  under  consideration,  a  well  managed 
Land  Mortgage  Bank  duly  approved  by  Government,  and 
owned  and  conducted  by  Englishmen,  from  which  loans 
could  be  obtained  by  approved  applicants  at  a  fair  rate 
of  interest  considering  the  circumstances  of  the  country. 
In  all  the  settled  districts,  where  each  man's  holding  and 
the  nature  of  the  tenure  are  at  once  clearly  recorded  in 
the  Land  Record  Registers,  a  business  of  this  sort  could 
easily  and  profitably  be  worked  on  a  sound  and  secure 
basis.     Operations  would  of  course  have  to  be  first  of  all 



confined  to  selected  portions  of  the  districts  immediately 
in  communication  with  the  centres  of  the  rice  export 
trade,  for  it  is  only  in  such  favoured  localities  that  the 
requisite  security  could  be  found  justifying  business  on  a 
large  scale  at  a  moderate  rate  of  interest.  Conducted  by 
men  thoroughly  conversant  with  the  Burmese  language 
and  character,  personally  known  and  trusted  by  the 
Burmese,  and  personally  acquainted  with  the  rural 
conditions  of  the  districts  forming  their  particular  sphere 
of  operations,  such  a  Land  Bank  would  prove  the  greatest 
and  most  undisguised  blessing  to  agriculturists  while 
giving  good  returns  to  the  shareholders.  It  probably 
would,  within  the  course  of  a  few  years,  become  a  potent 
factor  in  connection  with  regulating  the  market  price  of 
paddy,  in  which  respect  it  might  also  perhaps  contribute 
in  no  inconsiderable  degree  towards  obviating  fluctua- 
tions in  the  onward  progress  and  development  of  the 

During  the  settlement  of  the  Bassein  and  Tharrawaddy 
districts  it  was  found  that,  although  tenancies  were 
numerous,  there  was  hardly  what  could  be  called  a 
tenant  class  in  contradistinction  to  an  absentee  landlord 
class ;  but  there  were  distinct  indications  that  such 
classes  had  already  begun  to  form  themselves  even 
seventeen  or  eighteen  years  ago.  In  most  cases,  how- 
ever, the  tenant  of  one  holding  was  generally  the  owner 
of  adjacent  land,  and  was  not  a  man  of  separate  class  or 
different  social  standing  from  his  landlord.  Tenants  of 
this  sort  usually  held  only  for  one  year,  and  paid  a  rent 
of  ten  per  cent,  of  the  gross  produce  of  the  fields  in 
addition  to  the  land  revenue.  When  yearly  tenancies 
of  this  sort  ran  on  for  several  years,  the  tenants  were 
generally  relatives  of  the  landowners,  sons  paying  rent  to 
their  parents,  or  one  heir  paying  rent  to  the  co-sharers  of 
the  unpartitioned  estate.  Temporary  illness,  the  death 
of  his  wife,  a  lawsuit,  or  any  circumstance  of  this 
description  is  considered  by  the  Burmese  quite  a 
sufficient  reason  for  reposing  from  his  labours  for  a  year, 
provided  he  can  find  any  neighbouring  cultivator  who 
will  work  his  fields  upon  payment  of  the  land-revenue 
demand  and  giving  him  a  share  of  the  grain  harvested. 



Some  such  system  would  be  almost  certain  to  spring  up 
wherever  the  owners  of  the  soil  are  peasant  proprietors  : 
but  it  is  probably  found  to  a  greater  extent  in  Burma 
than  elsewhere,  owing  to  the  peculiar  disposition  and 
characteristics  of  the  people.  The  growth  of  a  landlord 
class  consisting  of  traders  and  money-lenders  must  of 
course  naturally  be  slow  in  a  rich  but  thinly  populated 
country,  where  the  still  large  amount  of  cultivable  waste 
enables  tenants  to  be  very  independent. 

In  Upper  Burma  tenants  of  ancestral  land  {Bobdbamg) 
usually  pay  a  rent  of  one-fourth  of  the  gross  produce, 
which  corresponds  with  the  nominal  land  revenue  fixed 
for  State  land  i^Ayddaw).  But  as  under  Burmese  rule 
the  measurement  of  the  private  areas  generally  ap- 
proached nearer  to  accuracy  than  in  the  case  of  the 
royal  lands,  the  rent  of  leased  tracts  was  consequently 
in  effect  higher  than  the  revenue  on  Ayddaw.  No 
provision  was  made  against  partial  failure  of  the  crop, 
and  the  tenant  had  just  to  take  the  risk  of  this.  In  the 
majority  of  cases,  however,  a  reasonable  remission  was 
made  during  bad  years.  The  water-rate  for  irrigated 
tracts  was  usually  paid  by  the  landlord  out  of  the  rent, 
unless  a  special  arrangement  had  been  made  about  this 
matter.  As  the  relations  between  the  owner  of  large 
ancestral  lands  and  his  tenants  were  very  much  the  same 
as  between  the  State  and  the  tenant  of  royal  lands,  the 
agriculturist's  preference  for  Bdbdbaing  or  Ayddaw  hold- 
ings was  mainly  dependent  on  his  relations  with  the 
landowner  in  the  one  case,  or  with  the  village  headman 
and  assessors  in  the  other.  Up  to  the  present  date 
there  is  litde  or  no  rack-renting  with  regard  to  ancestral 
lands ;  for  the  tenant  can  always  move  to  State  land,  of 
which  an  abundance  is  still  available  for  cultivation. 
Hence  there  is  as  yet  no  urgent  necessity  for  protecting 
the  tenant  against  his  landlord,  although  matters  are 
inevitably  tending  in  this  direction. 

Land  is  seldom  sold  outright  in  Upper  Burma.  The 
usual  conditions  of  mortgage  are  that  the  borrower  shall 
not  disturb  the  mortgagee's  possession  for  a  period  of 
three  to  five  years,  after  the  expiration  of  which  term  the 
mortgage   may   be  redeemed.     The  price  fixed   for  re- 



demption  is  usually  the  same  as  the  amount  originally 
advanced,  the  usufruct  of  the  land  being  considered  as 
the  equivalent  of  interest.  Mortgages  of  this  sort  are 
occasionally  converted  into  bona  fide  sales  by  payment  of 
a  small  additional  sum  of  money.  In  the  vast  majority 
of  cases  the  mortgagee  is  an  agriculturist.  When  this  is 
not  the  case,  the  mortgagor  usually  works  his  own  hold- 
ing as  the  tenant  of  the  former.  Interest  is,  however, 
paid  when  the  mortgage  is  merely  an  advance  of  money 
without  the  ownership  and  possession  being  temporarily 
pledged  ;  and  here  again,  as  in  Lower  Burma,  a  poor 
man  without  substantial  credit  generally  has  to  pay 
about  sixty  per  cent,  while  the  man  with  a  good  holding 
can  pledge  his  possession  temporarily,  paying  merely 
rent  as  a  tenant  but  nothing  in  the  shape  of  interest  on 
the  loan.  Within  the  last  eight  or  nine  years  the  custom 
of  recording  these  transactions  on  stamped  paper  has 
gradually  sprung  up.  Having  occasionally  been  taken 
in  through  not  understanding  the  status  of  such  local 
tenures,  Chetties  of  the  Indian  money-lending  class  are 
now  very  cautious  about  accepting  mortgages  of  land  in 
the  vicinity  of  Mandalay. 

While  it  is  as  yet  difficult  to  form  any  clear  idea  as  to 
the  extent  to  which  land  has  been,  and  is  being,  trans- 
ferred by  sale  or  mortgage  from  the  persons  with  whom 
the  revenue  settlement  was  made  to  others,  yet  it  appears 
certain  that  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  large  trading 
centres  such  transfers  are  frequent,  and  that  the  area  of 
land  cultivated  by  persons  in  the  condition  of  tenants 
paying  rent  to  middlemen  is  already  extensive.  And  it 
is  rapidly  increasing.  Bengalis  in  Akyab,  Chetties  and 
Burmese  brokers  and  money-lenders  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Rangoon,  and  Chetties  and  Chinamen  in  Moul- 
mein,  are  to  a  certain  extent  displacing  the  original 
landowners.  Considering  the  facilities  for  borrowing, 
and  the  improvidence  of  the  Burmese  people,  this  result, 
though  much  to  be  regretted,  is  perhaps  inevitable. 

The  incidence  of  the  total  demand  for  land  revenue, 
capitation  tax,  and  export  duty  on  rice  taken  together 
amounts  merely  to  between  three  and  four  rupees  (45.  to 
5 J.  4d.)  per  acre.     Land  cultivated  with  paddy  pays,  on  the 



average,  less  than  two  rupees  (25.  2>d.)  direct  revenue  per 
acre,  and  the  incidence  of  the  export  duty  on  sea-borne 
rice  comes  to  a  little  over  one  rupee  (i^.  4^.)  for  the 
produce  from  the  same.  This  duty,  being  paid  only 
when  there  is  a  surplus  for  export,  varies  on  the  total 
cultivated  area  with  the  gross  quantity  exported.  The 
rice  crop  in  Burma  is  certainly  as  abundant  as  that 
produced  from  the  best  irrigated  land  in  Northern  India; 
yet  for  this  the  cultivator  will  pay  his  landlord  a  rent  of 
at  least  between  five  and  six  rupees  {6s.  Sd.  to  Ss.)  per 
acre,  although  he  has  to  bring  from  the  canals  of  the  Ir- 
rigation Department,  at  a  further  cost  of  six  rupees  {Ss.) 
an  acre,  the  water  which  the  Burmese  agriculturist  obtains 
gratuitously  from  the  rain-clouds  driven  inland  from  the 
sea  by  the  south-west  monsoon  winds.  Rain-water  is 
also  more  fertilizing  and  stimulating  than  water  of  irriga- 

The  Government  land-revenue  demand  in  Burma  is 
therefore  nothing  more  than  a  light  rate,  which  does  not 
amount  even  to  one-half  of  the  actual  rental  value  of  the 
land.  As  the  cultivator  has  transferable  rights,  it  would 
be  unreasonable  to  expect  that  under  such  circumstances 
he  would  refrain  from  borrowing ;  nor  is  it  surprising 
that  well-to-do  neighbouring  cultivators,  as  well  as  paddy- 
brokers,  traders,  and  general  money-lenders  of  the  trading 
centres,  are  able  and  eager  to  acquire  large  areas  of  land 
which  they  can  probably  let  to  the  former  owner  at  a 
rent  of  six  to  eight  rupees  {Ss.  to  10s.  Sd.)  or  more  per 
acre,  while  they  have  only  to  pay  the  Government  land- 
revenue  demand,  amounting  to  less  than  one-third  of 
that :  for  the  capitation-tax  and  the  export  duty  on  rice 
do  not  affect  the  landowner.  In  point  of  fact,  the  land- 
revenue  demand  in  the  rich  tracts  of  Lower  Burma  is 
extremely  light;  and,  indeed,  the  financial  loss  thus 
voluntarily  incurred  by  the  State  is  hardly  compensated 
by  any  permanent  gain  to  the  actual  cultivator. 


Chapter   XI 


THE  cultivation  of  the  land  is  by  far  the  most  im- 
portant industry  in  Burma.  Less  than  twelve  per 
cent,  of  the  people  can  be  classified  as  urban. ^  Nearly 
two-thirds  of  the  total  population  are  either  directly  or 
indirectly  engaged  in  agriculture,  or  else  are  dependent 
for  their  livelihood  on  the  occupations  immediately  con- 
nected with  it ;  and  nearly  one- third  of  the  whole  popu- 
lation is  classifiable  under  the  heading  of  land  occupants 
cultivating,  including  dependents.  The  overwhelming 
predominance  of  the  agricultural  class  may  be  gauged 
from  the  fact  that  the  category  next  in  importance,  which 
comprises  fishermen,  grain-dealers,  fruit  and  vegetable 
sellers,  butchers,  and  a  whole  tribe  of  petty  bazaar  stall- 
keepers,  distributed  among  about  forty  separate  occu- 
pations concerned  with  the  preparation  and  supply  of 
food,  amounts  only  to  a  little  under  ten  per  cent,  of  the 
population.  The  butchers  comprised  in  this  latter  class 
are  principally  Chittagonians  and  other  non- Burmese 
nationalities,  as  the  slaughter  of  living  animals  for  food 
is  a  deep  offence  against  the  Buddhist  religion.  Being 
a  hunter  or  a  fisherman,  or  being  engaged  in  rearing 
silkworms  and  harvesting  the  cocoons,  is  hardly  looked 
on  as  following  a  quite  respectable  calling ;  but  to  breed 
and  fatten  cattle  for  the  slaughter-house  is  a  pursuit  that 
no  self-respecting  and  consistent  Burmese  would  admit 
to  be  the  occupation  upon  which  he  depends  for  his 
livelihood.  He  will  gladly  eat  his  bullock  if  it  happen 
to  die  a  natural  death,  and  will  even  feast  gloriously  on 
the  carcass  of  a  dead   elephant ;  nor  does  he  feel  any 

1  The  data  given  here  and  in  the  following  chapter  as  to  population 
and  its  distribution  follow  the  census  of  1891,  as  the  results  of  that  of 
1 90 1  are  not  yet  available. 



compunction  or  inconsistency  in  partaking  of  fish,  flesh, 
or  fowl  that  has  been  caught  and  killed  by  another.  He 
is  not  his  brother's  keeper,  and  his  religious  principles 
involve  neither  personally  nor  indirectly  any  responsibility 
for  the  sins  of  another. 

The  rural  population  is  distributed  in  villages  having, 
on  the  average,  forty-three  houses,  each  occupied  by 
seven  souls,  this  proportion  being  remarkably  equal  both 
in  Lower  and  Upper  Burma.  The  total  area  under 
actual  crop-cultivation  throughout  Burma  in  1 899-1900 
was  10,556,104  acres,  which  is  rather  less  than  one- fifth 
above  the  acreage  under  corn  crops  alone  in  the  United 
Kingdom.  But  there  are  still  more  than  24!-  millions  of 
acres  of  land  suitable  for  permanent  cultivation,  which 
only  await  the  advent  of  population  by  natural  increase 
or  by  immigration  from  the  congested  areas  in  India. 
Nearly  two-thirds  of  the  cultivated  area  are  situated  in 
Lower  Burma  (6,857,898  acres),  and  of  this  total  over 
ninety  per  cent,  are  under  rice  crops  (6,277,678  acres); 
while  less  than  fifty  per  cent,  of  the  total  area  under 
crops  in  Upper  Burma  (3,698,206  acres)  are  devoted  to 
rice  cultivation  (1,818,962  acres),  rather  less  than  one- 
third  being  under  millets,  maize,  and  pulses  .(1,141,955 
acres),  about  one-seventh  under  sessamum  and  other 
seeds  for  the  manufacture  of  oil  for  cooking  purposes 
(527,825  acres),  and  between  four  and  five  per  cent, 
under  cotton  (153,734  acres).  Wheat  is  not  cultivated 
in  Lower  Burma  ;  and,  although  the  climate  and  soil  are 
suitable,  only  15,813  acres  are  as  yet  cropped  with  it  on 
the  plains  of  Upper  Burma.  Its  cultivation  has  also 
been  successfully  introduced  into  the  Shan  States,  where 
enormous  stretches  of  good  land  could  be  made  to 
produce  wheat  if  any  favourable  market  existed  for  its 

For  the  cultivation  of  the  lands  on  the  plains  oxen  and 
buffaloes  are  used,  the  former  for  ploughing  the  higher 
lands  with  light  soils,  and  the  latter  for  the  heavy  wet 
tracts  and  marshy  lands.  Throughout  the  greater  por- 
tion of  Upper  Burma  bulls  and  bullocks  form  the  bulk 
of  the  plough-cattle ;  but  in  all  the  central  and  deltaic 
tracts  of  Pegu,  Martaban,  and  Tenasserim  buffaloes,  which 



here  obtain  splendid  development,  form  a  very  large 
proportion  of  the  agricultural  stock.  Massive,  unwieldy, 
and  slow,  buffaloes  are  less  suited  than  oxen  for  cartage 
purposes  along  roads,  but  they  can  be  used  on  fairly  level 
ground  for  dragging  timber  and  supplementing  the  work 
of  elephants,  as  well  as  for  ploughing  the  fields.  A  pair 
of  ordinary  buffaloes  in  their  prime  is  worth  between 
150  and  200  rupees  (^10  to  ;^i3i)  on  the  average. 
Fine,  heavy,  well-grown  animals,  however,  run  up  to 
three  to  four  hundred  rupees  (;^20  to  ;^26f ),  which  is  a 
far  higher  price  than  is  ever  paid  for  a  yoke  of  bulls  or 
bullocks,  except  for  cart-racing  purposes. 

Of  the  whole  mature  agricultural  stock  of  Burma, 
aggregating,  in  1900,  nearly  three  million  oxen  and 
buffaloes  fit  for  the  plough,  about  one-fourth  consists  of 
buffaloes,  and  considerably  over  two-thirds  of  the  total 
number  of  these  are  to  be  found  in  Lower  Burma.  As 
the  returns  of  the  Agricultural  Department  show  about 
nine  hundred  thousand  ploughs  and  harrows  to  be  in  use, 
this  gives  one  such  implement  for  every  iif  acres,  and 
one  yoke  of  cattle  for  every  seven  to  eight  acres,  allowing 
for  a  small  proportion  of  the  transport  required  for  the  four 
hundred  thousand  carts  in  the  country  being  withdrawn 
altogether  from  agricultural  employment.  The  young 
immature  stock  is  estimated  at  nearly  a  million  and  a 
quarter.  With  the  exception  of  the  cattle  in  the  Akyab 
district,  which  are  of  a  very  inferior  breed,  and,  being 
specially  ill-cared  for,  contrast  badly  with  those  in  other 
parts  of  Burma,  the  agricultural  stock  is  decidedly  good 
in  quality.^     The  buffaloes,  which,  like  the  elephant,  form 








Cow             Young 
Buff.iloes.        Stock. 




Lower  Burma  . 
Upper  Burma  . 




231,588     594-034 
98,581     638,724 



Total  .     .     . 




330,169    1,232,758 



Grand  Total 


716,742             1,232,758 





rather  a  link  with  the  pleistocene  geological  age  than  a 
characteristic  type  of  the  existing  fauna,  are  constitution- 
ally much  more  delicate  than  might  be  expected  in  the 
case  of  such  powerful  and  finely  developed  animals. 
They  have  comparatively  little  faculty  of  resisting  disease, 
and  can  hardly  be  reckoned  on  for  use  throughout  more 
than  from  three  to  four  or  five  seasons  on  the  average 
owing  to  the  abnormally  heavy  percentage  of  mortality 
from  epidemic  diseases.  Otherwise,  a  buffalo  may  be 
calculated  to  work  for  about  fifteen  years.  This  delicacy 
of  constitution  is  also  peculiarly  characteristic  of  the 
larger  and  more  powerful  elephant. 

Burm.ese  buffaloes  are  by  no  means  of  a  gentle  dis- 
position. In  the  deltoid  tracts,  where  they  attain  their 
finest  development,  they  are  often  suspicious  and  prone 
to  attack  the  European  even  though  unprovoked.  This 
may  probably  be  more  due  to  fear  than  to  natural  savage- 
ness  of  disposition.  The  appearance  of  any  unusual 
object,  like  a  European  riding  on  a  pony  across  the  fields 
in  which  they  are  grazing,  will  excite  them,  causing  them 
to  raise  their  nostrils,  sniffing  suspiciously,  and  to  move 
towards  the  object  of  fear  or  dislike,  gradually  quicken- 
ing their  pace  as  they  approach.  When  once  buffaloes 
begin  to  scent  in  this  manner  there  is  no  way  of  obviat- 
ing the  impending  attack  except  by  either  riding  away 
quickly  or  else  charging  the  still  hesitating  herd  and 
emitting  a  war-whoop,  a  manoeuvre  that  is  usually  suc- 
cessful. As  a  Burmese  pony  is  fleeter  of  foot  than  a 
buffalo,  one  can  in  such  cases  easily  escape  with  only  the 
risk  of  a  false  step  on  the  broken  ground  bringing  the 
rider  within  reach  of  further  inconvenience.  Any  little 
Burmese  urchin  near  the  buffaloes  would,  however,  be 
easily  able  to  restrain  the  animals  from  an  attack,  as 
they  would  then  retain  equanimity  in  the  presence  of 
the  unknown  object.  At  the  same  time  they  have  a 
certain  strain  of  innate  savageness,  which  is  even  culti- 
vated in  Tavoy  and  the  other  southern  districts  of 
Tenasserim  in  training  the  animals  for  buffalo  fights. 

The  oxen,  though  small,  are  hardy  and  active.  They 
belong  to  the  Zebu  or  humped  class,  having  a  large,  soft, 
fleshy  protuberance  above  the  tips  of  the  shoulder-blades. 



They  are  well-shaped,  and  have  good  clean  limbs. 
When  anything  like  well  cared  for,  their  short  coats  are 
sleek  and  glossy.  In  the  Amherst  and  Thaton  districts 
of  Tenasserim  selected  pairs  are  trained  to  race  in  light 
carts,  and  can  travel  very  rapidly  over  the  rough  roads. 
Few  or  no  attempts  are  made  to  improve  the  breed  by 
the  selection  of  good  sires,  the  breeding  taking  place 
promiscuously,  as  also  in  the  case  of  buffaloes,  while  the 
cattle  are  pastured  on  the  grazing  grounds.  The  stock 
of  oxen  is  largely  recruited  from  the  Southern  Shan 
States  and  Siam,  where  the  upland  pastures  are  well 
suited  for  cattle-breeding.  But  the  plains  of  Burma  are 
very  favourably  adapted  to  the  raising  of  cattle,  if  the 
people  would  only  bestow  attention  on  the  matter.  The 
supply  of  ponies  is  also  mainly  obtained  from  the  Shan 
States,  but  elephants  are  bred  in  a  state  of  semi-captivity 
in  the  eastern  tracts  of  Tenasserim  bordering  on  the 
Siam  frontier. 

Notwithstanding  their  utility  in  general,  their  actual 
necessity  for  agricultural  operations,  and  the  fact  of 
buffaloes  and  oxen  being  perhaps  the  fairest  standard  by 
which  their  owner's  prosperity  can  be  measured,  the 
Burmese  peasant  bestows  but  little  care  on  his  cattle. 
The  hire  of  a  yoke  of  buffaloes  for  the  season  is  usually 
at  the  rate  of  lOO  to  no  baskets  of  paddy,  though  it  is 
sometimes  as  much  as  200  baskets,  or  nearly  ten  baskets 
an  acre  for  the  area  they  can  plough  ;  and  this  is  not 
very  far  short  of  the  market  value  of  an  ordinary  pair. 
But  the  hire  is  paid  in  grain  on  the  threshing  floor,  and 
an  actual  purchase  means  ready  money  early  in  the  year. 
All  risks  considered,  the  cultivator  often  prefers  to  hire 
the  cattle  rather  than  borrow  money  to  purchase  them 

From  August  till  January,  or  between  the  ploughing 
and  the  threshing  seasons,  the  cattle  are  driven  out  into 
the  grazing  grounds,  generally  at  some  distance  from  the 
village.  Here  they  are  nominally  herded  by  a  villager, 
who  gets  paid  five  baskets  of  paddy  for  each  animal. 
After  the  crops  have  been  cut  in  December,  the  herds 
are  allowed  to  stray  over  the  fields  foraging  for  them- 
selves.     When    the  wisps  of  soft    rice  straw  and    the 



herbage  on  the  fields  get  dried  up  and  burned  off  during 
the  hot  spring  months,  the  cattle  have  often  difficulty  in 
picking  up  a  sufficiency  of  food,  unless  there  is  scrub 
jungle  in  the  vicinity  of  the  village,  or  unless  grazing 
grounds  have  been  set  apart  for  providing  shade,  shelter, 
and  forage  during  the  hottest  months  of  the  year.  Such 
grazing  grounds  have  been  extensively  formed  during 
the  last  fifteen  to  seventeen  years,  and  the  work  of  selec- 
tion and  demarcation  is  still  going  on.  Originally  it  was 
endeavoured  to  provide  for  grazing  in  the  fuel  reserves, 
administered  by  the  Forest  Department,  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  railway  lines ;  but  such  provision  was  found  to  be 
quite  inadequate,  and  to  be  opposed  in  several  ways  to 
the  interests  of  the  peasantry.  The  grazing  grounds  now 
being  formed  for  the  benefit  of  villages  in  their  vicinity 
are  scattered  as  equally  as  possible  over  the  different 
districts,  and  are  under  the  direct  control  of  the  Deputy 
Commissioner.  Unfortunately,  in  many  of  the  richest 
parts  of  the  province  steps  were  not  taken  in  this  direc- 
tion till  most  of  the  tree- forest,  which  formed  the  original 
covering  of  the  soil,  had  been  denuded.  Hence,  with 
regard  to  some  of  the  grazing  grounds,  it  will  take  many 
years  before  a  new  grov/th  of  trees  will  spring  up  spon- 
taneously— for  planting  would  be  too  expensive — and  be 
capable  of  affording  suitable  shade  and  shelter  during  the 
hottest  period  of  the  year.  When  the  "  mango  showers" 
in  March,  and  the  first  rains  in  April  and  May  cause  a 
rank  flush  of  coarse,  unnutritious  grasses,  the  poor 
hungry  animals  are  allowed  to  gorge  themselves  with  the 
succulent,  toothsome  food.  The  most  the  cultivator  does 
in  the  dry  season  is  to  fire  his  fields  and  the  surrounding 
jungle  of  Kaing  or  elephant  grass,  so  as  to  bring  out  an 
early  growth  of  young  grass  during  April. 

This  want  of  shade  and  shelter,  combined  with  in- 
sufficiency of  food  and  of  water  from  February  till  May, 
is  the  main  cause  of  the  grievously  heavy  mortality 
among  cattle  in  Burma.  The  death  rate  is  indeed  quite 
abnormally  high.  In  Lower  Burma  alone  the  mortality 
was  69,424  during  1894-95,  estimated  at  22^  lacs  of 
rupees  in  value  (^150,000),  and  in  the  following  year  it 
was  recorded  as  116,794  :  but  this  apparent  enormous 



increase  was  stated  to  be  partially  due  to  improvements 
in  the  system  of  registering  deaths  of  cattle,  and  not 
solely  to  the  virulence  of   infectious  diseases. 

The  chief  forms  of  cattle  disease  are  dysentery,  an- 
thrax, rinderpest,  and  foot-and-mouth  disease  ;  while  in 
the  Akyab  district  in  particular  sheer  debility,  caused  by 
absolute  neglect  of  the  poor  animals,  contributes  very 
largely  to  the  annual  bill  of  mortality.  During  1895-96 
and  1896-97  the  loss  of  cattle  in  Akyab  district  alone 
amounted  to  over  60,000.  When  once  anthrax  effects  a 
foothold  in  any  locality,  it  is  exceedingly  difficult  to  pre- 
vent the  recurrence  of  the  disease  during  the  following 
years,  as  the  bacillus  infects  the  grasses  to  the  height  of 
about  two  feet  around  the  spots  where  carcases  have 
rotted.  To  secure  anything  like  immunity  from  infection 
it  would  therefore  be  necessary  to  cut  fodder  for  cattle  at 
the  height  of  more  than  two  feet  above  the  ground  :  and 
it  would  indicate  total  misconception  of  the  Burmese 
character  to  think  of  such  trouble  being  habitually  taken. 
Even  elephants  engaged  in  timber  operations  frequently 
succumb  very  rapidly  to  anthrax  if  they  happen  to  graze 
near  such  infected  spots. 

The  Burmese  have  of  course  their  own  fantastic  notions 
as  to  the  causes  of  disease.  Thus  they  say  that  cattle 
turn  seriously  ill  when  they  happen  to  eat  a  sooth- 
sayer insect  or  praying  mantis  along  with  their  food,  and 
that  ponies  die  if,  while  grazing,  they  happen  to  nibble 
grass  upon  which  frogs'  spawn  has  been  deposited. 
The  most  common  treatment  given  to  cattle  and  ponies, 
when  in  bad  condition  from  over-exposure,  is  to  inject 
into  the  eye  a  mixture  of  betel-leaf,  cloves,  tobacco,  and 
salt,  which  is  specifically  known  as  "  eye-medicine." 

To  try  and  curtail  this  big  annual  bill  of  cattle  mortal- 
ity, which  weighs  heavily  on  agricultural  prosperity  and 
on  the  more  rapid  extension  of  permanent  cultivation, 
Government  in  1896  framed  rules  for  the  prevention  of 
cattle  disease,  and  enforced  them  for  several  districts  in 
both  Lower  and  Upper  Burma.  A  Veterinary  Depart- 
ment has  been  at  work  on  a  small  scale  since  1876,  and 
sixty-four  trained  assistants  were  employed  throughout 
the    province   during    1900.     But  a  more    hopeful    sign 



reo-arding  the  practical  utility  of  the  department  than  can 
be  represented  by  mere  statistics  is  the  fact  that  villagers 
are  now  beginning  to  apply  for  the  services  of  veterinary 
assistants  whenever  cattle  disease  breaks  out  epidemically. 
The  benefits  which  this  small  department  can  bring  to 
the  people  would  be  hard  to  over  estimate,  since  cattle 
murrain  may  cause  the  entire  savings  of  the  more  thrifty 
to  disappear  in  the  course  of  a  single  season. 

The  abnormally  heavy  mortality  among  stock  would 
no  doubt  be  very  considerably  lessened  if  the  people 
could  be  induced  to  take  more  care  of  their  cattle. 
Allowed  to  forage  for  themselves  during  the  scorching 
months  of  the  dry  season,  and  so  poorly  nourished  that 
their  strength  becomes  reduced  before  the  coarse  fresh 
grasses  spring  up  on  the  advent  of  the  early  rains,  the 
cattle  blown  out  with  large  quantities  of  new  grass 
during  May,  and  out  of  condition  in  every  respect,  are 
put  to  the  plough  in  June  and  worked  heavily  for  several 
hours  a  day.  When  not  yoked  to  the  plough  they  are 
turned  out  to  graze,  without  shelter  being  afforded  from 
the  rain  or  dry  ground  being  assured  to  them  for  lying 
upon.  Immersed  knee-deep  and  often  more  in  mud  and 
water,  they  soon  fall  into  a  condition  little  capable  of 
resisting  diseases  of  a  febrile  or  dysenteric  nature.  Large 
numbers  of  oxen  die  off  from  these  causes,  but  the 
buffaloes  are  less  liable  to  be  affected  by  exposure  to 
damp  and  immersion  in  water. 

Many  portions  of  the  Pegu  and  Hanthawaddy  districts 
are  almost  treeless  tracts  of  which  the  parts  not  actually 
under  cultivation  are  overgrown  by  coarse  elephant  grass 
[Kaing :  Saccharum  spontaneum),  twelve  to  fifteen  feet 
in  height,  and  with  a  stem  about  an  inch  and  a  quarter 
across,  which  dries  and  hardens  in  the  hot  season.  These 
tracts  become  arid  except  where  watercourses  traversing 
them  here  and  there  still  retain  some  water  in  their 
channels,  while  during  the  rainy  season  the  whole  of  the 
plains  are  covered  with  water  to  such  an  extent  that  in 
July  and  August  one  can  proceed  in  a  bee-line  across 
country  in  boats.  Vast  stretches  of  country  are  then 
often  inundated  for  weeks  at  a  time.  Men  and  boys  fish 
with  rod  and  line  in  the  ditches  on  each  side  of  the  Public 



Works  roads,  and  large  boats  of  forty  or  fifty  tons 
capacity  are  poled  along  their  ditches  in  places  where 
during  the  hot  weather  no  water  is  ever  seen  except  what 
is  drawn  up  from  deep  wells  for  domestic  purposes. 

At  midsummer  the  villages  on  the  plains  are  inundated 
unless  they  happen  to  be  built  on  rising  ground,  and  pro- 
gress from  house  to  house  is  by  means  of  canoes.  This 
is  one  of  the  main  reasons  why  houses  in  Burma  are 
always  built  on  piles,  like  the  ancient  lake-dwellings  of 
Switzerland.  Here  one  frequently  finds  the  buffaloes  and 
oxen  tied  on  small  mounds  raised  above  the  level  of  the 
water,  usually  without  any  protection  from  the  wind  or 
rain.  In  the  centre  of  the  mound  there  may  be  a 
smouldering  fire  of  damp  wood,  whose  smoke  helps  to 
keep  off  the  swarms  of  mosquitoes,  but  that  is  about  all 
the  protection  afforded  to  them.  In  the  Pantanav/  and 
Yandon  townships  of  the  Thongwa  district,  notorious  for 
their  plague  of  mosquitoes,  the  buffaloes  are  habitually 
placed  at  night  in  open  sheds  and  protected  by  the  smoke 
of  fires,  while  the  oxen  are  kept  in  closed  sheds  walled 
in  with  bamboo  mats  plastered  with  mud,  within  which 
fires  are  kept  smouldering.  The  more  careful  cattle- 
owners  even  place  their  bullocks  and  cows  under  large 
bamboo  frames  covered  with  muslin  to  protect  them  from 
the  fretful  irritation  caused  by  the  myriads  of  mosquitoes. 
In  parts  of  Thongwa  liable  to  be  flooded  during  July  and 
August  the  cattle  have,  when  the  river  is  highest,  to  take 
refuge  on  ant-heaps,  hummocks,  and  knolls  in  order  to 
get  above  the  floods.  In  places  where  standing  ground 
of  this  sort  is  not  available,  they  have  sometimes  to 
remain  for  days  together  in  the  water. 

Things  are  better  now  at  Maiibin,  the  headquarters  of 
the  Thongwa  district,  since  the  island  was  embanked  ; 
but  twenty  years  ago  it  was,  on  account  of  the  insect 
plague,  the  most  horrible  of  places  to  have  to  reside  in 
even  temporarily.  The  Deputy  Commissioner  and  the 
Superintendent  of  Police  were  the  only  two  European 
officers  then  stationed  there.  To  escape  from  the  awful 
torments  of  mosquitoes,  the  former  dined  before  sun- 
down in  a  framework  of  muslin  mosquito-netting,  and 
remained  inside  this  room  within  a  room  till  it  was  time 



to  go  to  bed,  there  again  to  be  protected  in  similar  man- 
ner, as  is  usual  all  over  Lower  Burma  ;  while  the  latter, 
living  in  a  wooden  house  built  on  piles  like  the  ordinary- 
Burmese  dwelling,  had  a  fire  of  green  wood  lighted  below 
his  dining-room,  the  smoke  from  which  came  up  through 
wide  chinks  between  the  floor  planks  and,  filling  the 
room,  drove  off  large  numbers  of  the  mosquitoes  that 
buzzed  around.  The  Deputy  Commissioner's  pony  had 
even  to  be  protected  by  a  framework  of  mosquito-netting 
to  enable  it  to  obtain  sleep.  These  are  no  mere  myths, 
but  actual  facts  within  my  personal  knowledge.^  Maiibin, 
so  called  from  a  tree  {Sarcccepkalus  Cadamba)  was 
selected  in  1874  as  the  chief  station  of  a  new  district  by 
Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  Ashley)  Eden  :  and  it  soon  gained 
an  unenviable  reputation  as  "  the  Garden  of  Eden." 

Further  north,  in  the  Prome  and  Thayetmyo  districts, 
and  throughout  the  dry  zone  forming  the  central  portion 
of  Upper  Burma  beyond  that,  the  climate  is  drier.    There 

^  This  perhaps  seems  like  making  a  mountain  of  a  mole-hill,  or,  at 
any  rate,  a  great  fuss  about  a  mere  flea-bite.  But  all  of  the  European 
officers  first  stationed  at  Maubin  became  eccentric,  and  some  even  com- 
pletely unhinged  in  mind.  Here,  too,  is  the  much  earlier  description 
given  by  Major  Symes  in  his  Embassy  to  Az'a,  1800,  pp.  452,  453 — 

"  We  had  now  reached  the  place  where  in  going  up  we  had  been  so  severely  teized 
by  mosquitos,  and  again  felt  their  venomous  influence  ;  they  even  assailed  us  in  the 
daytime,  and  in  such  numbers  that  we  were  obliged  to  fortify  our  legs  with  boots,  and 
put  on  thick  gloves,  whilst  by  continually  flapping  with  an  handkerchief  we  endeav- 
oured to  defend  our  faces.  But  no  sooner  had  darkness  commenced,  than  these 
troublesome  insects  redoubled  their  attacks  in  such  multitudes,  of  such  a  size,  and  so 
poisonous,  that  I  am  persuaded  if  an  European  with  a  delicate  skin  were  to  be  ex- 
posed uncovered  to  their  ravages  for  one  night,  it  would  nearly  prove  fatal  ;  even  the 
Birman  boatmen,  whose  skins  are  not  easily  penetrated,  cannot  repose  within  their 
action  ;  and  my  Bengal  servants  actually  cried  out  in  torment.  I  lay  in  boots  with 
my  clothes  on,  and  a  double  napkin  over  my  face,  and  even  thus  could  procure  no 

Some  twenty  years  ago  an  artillery  officer  told  me  that  when,  under 
his  charge,  a  draft  on  the  way  up  to  Thayetymo  first  halted  for  the 
night  in  the  delta,  the  torment  of  mosquitoes  was  so  bad  that  one  of 
the  men  jumped  overboard  in  frenzy  and  was  drowned.  On  the 
following  night,  higher  up  the  river,  fireflies  flitted  about  when  it  be- 
came dark,  and  the  wit  of  the  draft  exclaimed :  "  Be  jabers,  here's  the 
bloodthirsty  villains  following  us  with  their  lanterns  now."  Only  a  strong 
word  will  adequately  express  the  torture  which  myriads  of  mosquitoes 
can  cause  :  and  that  particutar  word  must  vary  in  each  several  case 
according  to  the  personal  equation  of  the  individual  as  to  forcible 



the  oxen  thrive  well,  and  are  much  healthier.  It  is  too 
dry  indeed  for  buffaloes,  which  are  only  to  be  found  in 
the  villaofes  alonor  the  banks  of  the  main  rivers  and  their 

These  climatic  variations  from  constant  annual  rainfall 
exceeding  200  inches  near  the  coast  to  a  precarious  tithe 
of  that  in  the  centre  of  the  dry  zone,  the  nature  and 
extent  of  which  have  already  been  elsewhere  referred  to 
(chap.  ix.  p.  243),  of  course  necessitate  great  differences 
both  as  to  the  modes  of  agriculture  and  the  crops  raised. 
As  all  the  methods  of  cultivation  are,  however,  simple 
enough  to  be  classed  as  rather  primitive,  and  as  the  im- 
plements used  are  much  the  same  all  over  the  country, 
there  is  no  great  variety  in  agricultural  operations.  The 
permanent  cultivation  is  everywhere  known  as  fields  {Le), 
in  contradistinction  to  the  shifting  cultivation,  {Ya,  or  on 
hills  Taungya)  practised  for  one  to  three  years  on  land 
cleared  for  the  purpose  and  then  abandoned  and  allowed 
to  revert  to  jungle.  Another  class  of  temporary  but 
more  or  less  recurring  cultivation  [Kaing),  principally  of 
tobacco,  tomatoes,  chillies,  and  other  garden  produce,  is 
that  taking  place  on  the  rich  and  fertile  banks  of  mud 
deposited  along  the  inner  bends  of  streams,  which  are 
planted  up  when  the  waters  subside  after  the  rainy  season. 
But  all  garden  produce  of  these  and  other  varieties,  and 
orchards  of  fruit  trees  grown  on  permanent  holdings  on 
the  high  ground  are  included  within  a  specific  term  {C/yi7i) 
applied  to  all  lands  enclosed  with  bamboo  fencing  for 
such  purposes.  There  are  no  hedges  separating  field 
from  field,  but  merely  small  ridges  of  earth  [Kazinyo)  to 
retain  water  for  cultivation. 

Throughout  the  whole  of  the  moister  parts  of  the  pro- 
vince the  agricultural  season  is  the  wet  period  of  the 
south-west  monsoon,  which  sets  in  towards  the  middle  of 
May,  and  usually  extends  till  November  ;  and  the  bulk  of 
the  crops  consist  of  rice.  In  some  parts  of  Lower  Burma 
a  hot-season  crop  {Mayin)  is  also  grown  with  the  assist- 
ance of  irrigation  during  the  spring  months  ;  but  this  is 
not  nearly  so  widespread  a  custom  as  in  those  districts  of 
Upper  Burma  which  have  only  a  comparatively  light  or 
precarious  rainfall. 



In  the  moist  localities  comprising  the  rice-producing 
tracts  par  excellence,  the  fields  are  ploughed  in  June  or 
early  in  July,  as  soon  as  the  thirsty,  sun-baked,  and 
deeply  fissured  soil  has  become  so  saturated  and  soaked 
with  rain  that  a  layer  of  water  covers  the  surface  of 
the  field.  In  many  localities,  however,  it  is  sometimes 
delayed  from  one  cause  or  another  until  early  in  August, 
so  that  the  ploughing  may  be  taken  to  extend  over  about 
two  months.  The  ridges  [Kazlnyo)  round  each  field  are 
carefully  repaired  to  prevent  the  off-flow  of  this  surface- 
water,  which  is  essential  to  the  healthy  development  of 
the  rice-plants. 

The  first  ceremony  of  all  is  to  consult  the  village  sooth- 
sayer (BMin  Sayd)  and  ascertain  from  him  the  most  auspi- 
cious day  for  the  commencement  of  ploughing  operations. 
For  each  individual  every  month  has  two  very  unlucky  days 
on  which  it  is  dangerous  for  him  to  set  forth  on  a  journey 
or  to  undertake  any  new  work.  These  the  astrologers 
can  divine  from  his  horoscope,  and  it  is  inadvisable  for 
him  to  break  soil  with  the  plough  while  these  unlucky 
days  are  in  the  ascendant.  Nor  must  land  be  ploughed 
upon  the  days  when  evil  spirits  lie  beneath  the  earth, 
which  can  also  be  revealed  by  astrological  calculations 
{Pyetkadein).  To  make  up  for  these  two  unlucky  days 
each  month  contains  one  gloriously  auspicious  "royal  day" 
( Yelyazd)  upon  which  it  is  most  proper  that  the  chief  en- 
terprise of  the  year  should  be  entered  upon.  If  for  any 
reason  it  be  inconvenient  to  await  this  day  of  days,  then 
at  all  events  the  phase  of  the  moon  must  be  awaited  in 
which  this  lucky  day  is  in  the  ascendant. 

Until  within  the  last  twenty  or  twenty-five  years  the 
implement  used  throughout  the  wet  tracts  near  the  coast 
for  breaking  up  the  soft  rain-soaked  soil  was  a  primitive 
harrow  ( Ttmdon  or  "  plough- log")  rather  than  a  plough.  It 
consists  of  a  stout  round  pole  or  transverse  bar,  about 
seven  to  eight  feet  long,  usually  with  seven  broad 
tough  wooden  teeth  made  of  Cutch  wood,  or  Padauk  for 
preference,  fixed  in  at  intervals  of  about  nine  or  ten  inches 
and  long  enough  to  stir  up  the  surface  soil  to  about  the 
same  depth  in  buffalo  ploughs,  and  about  two  inches 
shorter  in  bullock  ploughs.    The  former  is  used  on  heavy 



marshy  land,  the  latter  in  lighter  soils  and  on  higher 
ground.  A  tough  bow  was  bent  over  the  top  of  this  from 
near  one  end  to  the  other,  so  as  to  form  an  arch  against 
which  the  cultivator  could  lean  when  driving  the  bullocks 
or  buffaloes,  thus  sparing  himself  the  fatigue  of  wading 
through  the  oozy  mud,  while  adding  his  own  comparatively 
light  weight  towards  rendering  the  work  of  the  harrow 
more  effective  by  weighing  down  the  teeth  into  the  soil. 
The  two  buffaloes  or  oxen  are  loosely  attached  to  a  long 
thin  pole  fixed  in  the  centre  of  the  "plough-log,"  being 
united  by  an  easy  yoke  stretching  across  this  and  over 
their  necks.  The  guiding  is  done  by  means  of  a  thin 
rope  attached  to  a  hole  made  in  the  nostrils  of  the  cattle. 
There  being  no  metal  work  about  it,  the  whole  harrow 
could  easily  be  made  by  a  peasant  in  less  than  a  day, 
without  any  assistance.  In  and  around  the  central  zone 
of  precarious  rainfall,  where  the  constant  annual  struggle 
with  nature  naturally  led  to  the  use  of  better  implements 
in  preparing  the  soil  for  the  reception  of  seed  or  plants, 
a  primitive  but  fairly  effective  form  of  plough  {Te)  has 
long  been  in  use  for  breaking  up  the  soil  before  using 
the  harrow.  This  has  gradually  been  introduced  into 
many  parts  of  Lower  Burma  for  turning  the  sod  in  the 
preliminary  operations,  without,  however,  driving  out  of 
general  use  the  harrow  with  which  alone  the  soil  has  been 
lightly  and  superficially  worked  from  time  immemorial. 
Another  implement  introduced  from  Upper  Burma  is  a 
clod  -  breaker  [Kyandon),  consisting  of  a  number  of 
straight  thin  iron  blades  revolving  on  a  common  axis, 
sometimes  used  for  the  preliminary  breaking  up  of  the 
soil.  The  Te  has  a  share  consisting  of  a  piece  of  iron 
raised  in  the  middle  with  slightly  curved  edges,  terminat- 
ing in  a  point,  and  fixed  to  a  shaft.  The  simplicity  of 
this  plough  may  be  imagined  by  the  fact  that  the  iron 
share  only  costs  about  a  rupee  (li'.  4^.)  locally,  while 
those  taken  down  to  Burma  are  sold  at  about  two  and  a 
half  rupees  (35-.  4^^.).  Efforts  have  been  made  by  Gov- 
ernment to  introduce  a  light  kind  of  metal  plough  (the 
"  Kaiser  "  plough),  but  in  view  of  the  force  of  hereditary 
custom  and  the  enormous  vis  inertiae  with  which  the 
Burmese  can  resist  innovations  not  resulting  directly  in 



amusement,  the  introduction  of  improved  agricultural 
implements  and  ot  more  advanced  agricultural  methods 
can  only  be  expected  to  be  very  gradual.  The  Te  is 
certainly  an  improvement  for  the  first  and  second  courses 
of  ploughing  in  so  far  as  it  partially  inverts  the  soil, 
in  place  of  only  scraping  and  stirring  it  up  slightly  like 
the   Tundon  or  harrow. 

It  would  be  of  vast  economic  benefit  and  would  give 
a  great  impetus  to  the  more  rapid  extension  of  per- 
manent cultivation  if  the  use  of  any  light  plough  for  the 
first  breaking  up  of  the  soil  could  be  made  general, 
and  if  strong,  light,  simple  harness  could  be  used,  such 
as  is  in  common  use  for  plough  oxen  throughout  Upper 
Bavaria.  This  only  costs  about  five  shillings  a  set,  and 
could  surely  be  locally  reproduced  more  cheaply  in  Burma; 
while,  yoked  with  it,  a  single  buffalo  or  bullock,  exerting 
its  strength  through  the  steady  pressure  applied  to  the 
padded  band  passing  across  its  forehead  just  below  the 
horns,  would  perform  work  more  quickly  and  effectively 
than  can  at  present  be  achieved  by  a  pair  of  loosely 
yoked  cattle.  Specimens  of  these  could  very  easily  be 
obtained  through  the  British  Consul  in  Munich,  and 
experiments  in  this  direction  are  certainly  worth  a 

An  auspicious  day  having  been  fixed  for  the  com- 
mencement of  operations,  the  plough  is  drawn  across  the 
field  in  parallel  straight  lines  either  from  east  to  west  or 
from  north  to  south,  according  to  the  advice  of  the 
astrologer.  When  this  has  been  done,  the  plough  is 
then  turned  at  right  angles  to  its  former  track,  and  the 
whole  area  again  ploughed  in  parallel  lines,  thus  throwing 
it  into  small  squares  {Ldgwetcha)  like  those  of  a  chess- 
board. Young  buffaloes  are  then  turned  into  the 
fields  and  driven  up  and  down  *'  to  stir  up  "  the  soil 
{HmwHhi)  till  it  becomes  worked  into  a  mass  of  soft 
mud.  In  the  Amherst  and  Tavoy  districts,  where  the 
wet  season  sets  in  early  with  heavy  rainfall,  it  is  no 
uncommon  sight  about  the  beginning  of  June  to  see 
twelve  or  fifteen  buffaloes  being  thus  driven  in  a  line 
up  and  down  the  fields.  After  this  the  land  is  again 
ploughed  twice  diagonally   (Daimgdan)  to  the  original 



lines,  and  buffaloes  are  once  more  turned  into  the  field 
to  stir  up  the  mud.  Again  the  plough  is  drawn  across 
the  field  still  more  slantingly  (Ki^^?^«^),  and  the  young 
buffaloes  turned  in  to  liquefy  the  soil  and  obtain  a 
smooth  surface  of  mud  on  the  water- sodden  field.  If 
the  cultivator  has  no  young  buffaloes  to  stir  up  the  mud, 
ploughing  is  again  performed  at  still  another  angle 
(Ndnsatm^)  before  the  ploughing  operations  are  con- 
sidered to  be  completed. 

There  are  thus  eight  complete  courses  (Sat)  of  plough- 
ing for  each  field,  four  being  in  given  directions,  and  the 
other  four  at  right  angles  thereto,  every  operation 
comprising  two  courses  or  Sat,  having  each  its  own 
technical  name.  When  young  buffaloes  are  turned  in  to 
assist  in  preparing  the  soil  only  six  Sat  are  performed ; 
but  otherwise  the  whole  eight  are  usually  carried  out. 
In  low-lying  tracts,  however,  it  often  happens  that  only 
four  Sat  are  ploughed.  Sometimes  even  less  trouble 
than  that  is  taken  in  very  wet  tracts,  while  on  rather 
drier  land  as  many  as  ten  or  twelve  courses  are 
adopted.  Working  with  the  customary  Lower  Burma 
plough,  the  Ttmdon  or  harrow,  two  Sat  or  courses  at 
right  angles  to  each  other  can  easily  be  accomplished 
over  an  acre  during  one  forenoon's  work  lasting  for 
about  five  to  six  hours.  The  preparation  of  the  soil 
consequently  claims  a  total  of  about  four  days'  work  per 
acre  of  the  holding  cultivated  ;  but  intervals  are  allowed 
between  each  two  courses  to  kill  off  the  weeds  by 
immersion.  Sometimes  after  the  fourth  or  the  sixth 
ploughing,  when  much  water  is  standing  on  the  field, 
this  is  drained  off  after  the  weeds  have  been  killed 
and  before  the  remaining  courses  of  ploughing  are 
carried  out. 

Ploughing  operations  being  completed,  the  seed  is 
sown  broadcast,  after  being  steeped  for  two  days  in  water 
and  allowed  to  germinate,  or  else  the  field  is  planted  up 
with  paddy  transplants  raised  in  nurseries.  Broadcast 
sowing  between  the  middle  of  June  and  the  middle  of 
July  is  of  course  cheaper  than  transplanting,  but  the 
latter  method  gives  a  much  larger  crop.  A  basket  of 
paddy  sown   broadcast  over  the  fields  is  said  to  yield 



fifty  to  seventy  baskets  at  the  harvest,  according  to  the 
soil  ;  whereas  each  basket  sown  in  nurseries  gives  from 
eighty  to  a  hundred  bundles  of  transplants,  and  each 
bundle  will  yield  one  basket  of  paddy. 

Simultaneously  with  the  ploughing  a  few  fields  are 
prepared  as  nurseries  {Pyogin)  for  the  paddy  plants. 
Without  any  knowledge  of  vegetable  physiology,  the 
Burmese  cultivator  knows  by  experience  that  the  medium 
class  of  land,  neither  the  wettest  nor  the  driest  in  his  hold- 
ing, is  that  most  suitable  for  selecting  as  nurseries  for  raising 
the  healthiest  and  most  vigorous  transplants.  These  nur- 
series are  ploughed  first,  and  in  some  very  few  cases  are 
even  manured  with  cowdung,  before  the  seed  is  sown 
broadcast  thickly  over  the  soil.  In  some  parts  the  best 
sheaves  harvested  are  kept  for  sowing  in  the  following 
season,  being  stored  in  bamboo  baskets  coated  and 
closed  with  mud  and  cowdung  to  keep  it  dry.  When 
required,  it  is  put  into  a  large  basket  and  covered  with 
straw,  which  is  kept  wet  till  germination  begins  ;  then 
it  is  sown  broadcast.  As  a  general  rule,  however,  no 
attention  whatever  is  given  to  the  selection  of  good 
seed,  the  only  precaution  taken  being  to  see  that  the 
seed  grain  is  of  one  uniform  kind,  as  there  are  many 
individual  varieties  of  paddy  which  each  require  different 
periods  of  time  for  their  development  and  ripening. 

Transplanting  usually  takes  place  in  July  or  August, 
by  which  time  the  whole  of  the  ploughing  opera- 
tions are  at  an  end  and  the  young  paddy  plants  in 
th(;  nurseries  have  grown  to  about  a  foot  or  eighteen 
inches  i!i  height.  When  rainfall  is  late  in  coming  in 
sufficient  quantity,  when  the  first  planting  is  destroyed 
by  inundations  in  August,  or  when  agricultural  opera- 
tions cannot  be  taken  in  hand  till  after  the  floods  subside, 
transplanting  is  continued  during  September,  and  some- 
times even  into  October ;  but  fields  planted  so  near  to 
the  end  of  the  rainy  season  seldom  yield  a  good  crop. 

When  wanted  for  transplanting,  the  young  plants  are 
pulled  in  wisps  out  of  the  soft  wet  mud  and  tied 
together  in  bundles  [Pyolei)  containing  about  1,300 
plants  each,  which  are  carried  away  on  bamboo  poles 
and  distributed  over  the  fields  to  be  planted  up.      Here 




they  are  inserted  with  the  right  hand  into  the  soft  mud 
at  distances  of  about  a  foot  apart,  two  or  three  plants 
being  inserted  each  time  in  the  soil.  Roughly  speaking, 
it  may  be  estimated  that  about  100,000  paddy  plants 
are  required  for  planting  up  each  acre,  and  that  these 
are  put  in  at  a  foot  apart  (43.560  wisps  per  acre).  As 
this  work  is  continued  from  earl)-  morning  until  evening 
with  an  inter\'al  for  a  meal,  t.t:  about  ten  hours'  actual 
work,  as  it  takes  hve  women  nearly  a  whole  day  to 
plant  an  acre,  and  as  the  planting  hire  is  a  basket 
of  paddy  a  day  with  the  morning  meal  thrown  in.  the 
cost  ot  planting  an  acre  with  hired  labour  costs  about 
hve  baskets  of  paddy.  Transplanting  is  usually  done 
by  the  wife  and  children  of  the  cultivator,  assisted 
perhaps  by  neighbours,  or  else  by  hired  hands  ;  for  it 
would  really  be  too  much  to  expect  the  cultix-ator 
himself  to  incur  the  fatigue  o(  constantly  bending  down 
to  dibble  in  the  young  plants.  As  holdings  are  small, 
there  is  only  a  ver\'  slight  proportion  of  the  population 
which  can  be  classified  as  regular  farm  labourers  :  but 
field-workers,  crop-watchers,  and  reapers,  who  are  hired 
by  the  job,  number  close  upon  700,000 

For  some  time  after  being  transplanted  the  young  paddy 
wilts,  turning  yellow  and  sickly  in  appearance.  With 
abundance  of  water,  however,  it  gradually  recovers  and 
assumes  a  fine,  healthy,  deep-green  colour.  When  wilting 
appears  to  be  due  to  insufficiency  of  water,  any  neigh- 
bouring ditch  is  dammed  up  and  the  water  scooped  into 
the  field  with  a  big  shovel  made  of  bamboo  matting. 
Little  or  nothing  is  done  in  the  way  of  weeding.  Rank 
vegetation  is  often  allowed  to  grow  up  with  the  paddy 
to  the  prejudice  of  the  future  crop.  The  most  that  is 
done  in  this  direction  is  to  hack  down  with  a  long  bill 
the  high  grass  that  rises  above  the  water,  till  the  paddy 
sown  broadcast  comes  up.  In  all  such  important  matters 
as  selection  of  seed,  manurinof  of  soil,  and  weeding-  the 
crop,  the  Burmese  cultivator  is  exceedingly  negligent 
and  apathetic,  whereas  such  Karen  and  Shan  as  have 
left  the  hills  to  settle  on  the  plains  are  much  more 
diligent  cultivators,  ploughing  their  fields  carefully  and 
taking  great  trouble  to  keep  the  crops  clear  oi  weeds. 



Although  for  long  essentially  hill  tribes,  and  dependent 
entirely  on  shifting  cultivation  {Taungya),  the  Karen 
have  come  down  in  fairly  large  numbers  to  found 
villages  and  engage  in  permanent  cultivation  in  the 
various  districts  abutting  on  the  hilly  ranges.  The 
original,  or  at  any  rate  very  early,  inhabitants  of  many 
portions  of  the  delta,  they  had  first  to  retreat  before  the 
Peguans  and  were  completely  driven  into  the  hills  by 
subsequent  Burmese  incursions.  Now,  however,  they 
are  distinguishable  by  language  into  the  two  main 
branches  Pwo  or  Taking  Karen  and  Sgaw  or  Burmese 
Karen.  Both  are  good  cultivators.  As  the  former 
select  their  clearings  in  heavy  tree  jungle,  they  obtain 
the  most  fertile  land ;  but  they  are  often  compelled  to 
part  with  it  later  on,  owing  to  their  unfortunate  pro- 
pensity for  drinking  and  gambling.  Nominally  they 
are  Buddhists,  but  in  reality  they  are  very  superstitious, 
and  chiefly  worship  spirits  to  whom  they  make  offerings 
at  different  seasons  of  the  year.  The  Sgaw  Karen, 
though  less  fond  of  heavy  work  in  clearing  their  holdings, 
are  more  intelligent  and  enterprising  than  the  Pwo. 
Most  of  the  Sgaw  tribe  have  been  converted  to  Christ- 
ianity by  American  Baptist  or  Roman  Catholic  mission- 
aries. Their  villages  are  generally  well  laid  out,  their 
houses  spacious  and  substantial,  and  the  cultivators 
themselves  thrifty  and  careful. 

The  Taking  Karen  make  offerings  of  fowls  and 
liquor  to  the  spirit  of  the  field  at  the  time  of  ploughing, 
and  again  when  the  paddy  has  been  planted  out.  These 
offerings  are  continued  for  three  years  in  the  case  of  new 
land,  when  the  spirit  is  supposed  to  be  propitiated  and 
willing  to  watch  over  the  crops.  When  the  threshing 
ground  is  being  prepared,  offerings  of  eggs  are  made 
during  the  first  year,  of  fowls  in  the  second,  and  of  pigs- 
in  the  third  year,  to  secure  the  continuous  goodwill  of 
the  spirit.  Though  only  deemed  essential  for  three 
years,  it  is  considered  politic  to  make  the  offerings  every 
year ;  and  the  practice  even  finds  much  favour  in  the 
eyes  of  the  Burmese  cultivator.  The  festivals  during 
which  these  spirit-offerings  are  made  usually  last  for 
three   days,  throughout  which    no  food  can  be   carried 



out  of  the  cultivator's  house   nor  any  guest  allowed   to 
depart  therefrom. 

They  have  also  many  superstitious  ideas  as  to  the 
shape  of  their  fields.  They  object  to  their  land  touching 
that  of  any  cultivator  living  in  a  different  village,  even 
though  he  be  one  of  their  own  race  ;  and  unploughed 
fallow  strips  are  left  to  prevent  such  holdings  touching 
each  other.  They  likewise  object  to  the  field  of  a 
neighbour  forming  an  acute  angle  with  their  own  land. 
In  a  small  field  such  a  projecting  piece  is  left  untilled, 
but  if  the  field  be  large  a  plough's  breadth  of  land 
is  left  between  the  two  holdings  to  avert  the  evil  that 
might  otherwise  ensue.  Not  altogether  so  unreasonably, 
he  also  objects  to  his  holding  being  situated  between 
those  of  near  relatives,  such  as  father,  uncle,  brother  or 
sister,  son  or  daughter,  and  nephew  or  niece,  an  objection 
which  is  shared  by  the  Burmese,  and,  even  more  reason- 
ably still,  applied  to  houses  in  towns  with  regard  to  the 
nearest  degrees  of  relatives. 

Another  of  their  curious  customs  is  the  payment  ot 
Ashaung  or  compensation  for  certain  acts  supposed  to 
be  productive  of  evil  consequences.  If  any  cultivator 
or  his  cattle  cross  fields  on  which  an  offering  to  the 
spirits  is  deposited,  he  has  to  pay  Ashaung  to  the  owner 
of  the  field.  For  various  other  acts  which  would  not 
appear  objectionable  to  an  ordinary  individual,  but  which 
fall  under  something  like  the  Taboo  of  the  Maoris,  this 
sort  of  compensation  or  fine  has  to  be  paid.  Thus  there 
is  an  Ashaung  for  happening  to  let  a  knife  or  bill  drop 
in  another  man's  house,  or  for  descending  from  his  house 
without  touching  the  last  step  of  the  ladder.  The 
compensation  is  usually  only  of  some  such  trifling  amount 
as  a  fowl  or  four  annas  (6^.),  but  it  is  paid  without 
demur  even  by  Christian  Karen  or  Burmese  who  may 
profess  not  to  believe  in  the  evil  influence  of  the  act. 
The  heaviest  Ashaung  is  demanded  when  a  cart  happens 
to  touch  a  house  or  a  heap  of  paddy.  Then  it  varies 
from  five  to  thirty  rupees  (65.  M.  to  £2)  in  amount,  being 
supposed  to  be  equivalent  to  the  value  of  the  house 
or  of  the  paddy.  The  evil  influence  thus  roused  can 
be  dispelled  if  the  cart-driver  will  allow  the  owner  of 

321.  Y 


the  house  to  pour  water  over  his  cart ;  but  the  man  at 
fault  is  hardly  ever  bold  enough  to  face  the  unknown 
possibilities  which  might  lurk  behind  so  mystic  a  cere- 
mony, and  almost  invariably  prefers  to  pay  a  fine. 

Most  Burmese  cultivators,  and  the  unconverted  Sgaw 
Karen,  have  similar  superstitious  ideas  with  regard  to 
the  shape  of  their  fields.  They  also  believe  implicitly 
in  the  evil  influence  of  a  cart  colliding  against  the  posts 
or  other  portion  of  a  house,  but  they  affect  disbelief 
in  most  of  the  other  kinds  of  Ashaung.  Fines  for 
careless  driving  were  even  prescribed  in  the  Laws  of 
Manu.  If  the  cart  struck  the  posts  of  the  steps,  or  of 
the  landing  near  the  steps,  the  posts  were  merely  to  be 
replaced  ;  but  if  any  of  the  eight  chief  posts  of  the  main 
portions  of  the  house  were  to  be  driven  against,  new 
posts  were  to  be  put  in  and  three  tickals  of  silver 
forfeited  "  to  promote  the  flow  of  the  pure  waters  of 
friendship."  The  propitiation  was  the  same  in  the  case 
of  driving  against  the  steps,  because  the  steps  are  a 
material  part  of  the  house.  "  But  if  the  owner  of  the 
house  shall  throw  water  on  the  cart,  nothing  shall  be 
paid  as  forfeit."  If  cartmen  driving  at  night  in  a  walled 
royal  city  ran  against  a  house,  they  were  to  suffer  the 
infliction  of  forty  stripes  with  a  rattan  in  addition  to 
punishment  as  above.  Such  was  the  ancient  statute  law 
of  the  Burmese. 

After  transplanting,  little  more  is  done  until  the  grain 
is  in  ear,  when  the  fields  are  watched  by  the  cultivator  or 
by  his  children,  or  else  by  hired  hands,  who  sit  on  raised 
platforms  in  the  fields  and  drive  away  the  flocks  of 
sparrows,  green  parrots,  and  other  birds  that  feed  on  the 
tender  crop.  Occasionally  one  sees  conventional  scare- 
crows made  of  a  bamboo  cross  covered  with  rags  to 
impersonate  a  human  being,  but  the  most  usual  method 
is  for  children  to  fire  small  mud-balls,  like  diminutive 
marbles,  from  a  pellet-bow  into  the  flight  of  birds.  And 
there^  is  naturally  a  good  deal  of  shouting  in  the  fields  at 
this  time  of  the  year. 

A  very  ingenious  method  of  scaring  birds  from  the 
crop  is  to  be  seen  in  the  Tau7igva  or  shifting  cultivation 
of  the  Karen  and  other  hill  tribes.     Surrounded  by  the 



tree  forest  in  which  the  clearing  is  made  for  the  year, 
these  patches  of  temporary  paddy  land  are  liable  to  be 
preyed  upon  to  a  very  injurious  extent  by  enormous 
swarms  of  green  parrots.  While  the  grain  is  ripening 
the  cultivator  usually  resides  on  his  clearing  in  a  small 
hut  raised  high  enough  above  the  ground  to  be  secure 
from  night  attacks  of  tigers,  which  infest  most  of  the 
thick  jungles.  To  scare  birds  effectually,  and  to  accom- 
plish this  desirable  object  with  the  minimum  of  effort, 
but  the  maximum  of  effect  and  of  conservation  of 
energy,  the  wily  Karen  constructs  a  system  of  thin  cane 
lines,  like  telephone  wires,  from  his  hut  as  a  central 
point  and  radiating  in  all  directions  towards  the  limits  of 
his  clearance.  These  thin  wire-like  canes  are  loosely 
supported  on  long  bamboos  stuck  into  the  ground,  and  a 
kick  with  the  foot  or  a  tap  with  a  stick  instantly  sends 
them  swaying  and  jangling  for  some  time,  and  throwing 
off  scintillating  flashes  of  reflected  sunlight  from  the 
glossy  surface  "  smooth  with  nature's  varnish."  This 
simple  and  ingenious  method  is  a  most  effective  means 
of  scaring  away  the  parrots,  which  are  not  very  timid 

The  manner  in  which  the  Karen  selects  the  patch  of 
forest  to  be  cleared  is  peculiar  and  interesting.  During 
the  month  of  January  or  early  in  February  each  culti- 
vator prospects  and  fixes  on  what  seems  a  suitable 
locality,  two  or  three  cultivators  usually  selecting  their 
patches  together  in  small  areas  of  about  three  to  five 
acres  per  man.  Before  commencing  to  clear  the  heavy 
tree-jungle,  the  traditional  oracle  has  to  be  consulted  to 
find  out  if  the  spirits  of  the  air,  the  earth,  and  the 
forest  approve  the  cultivation  of  the  spot  selected  for 
the  particular  year.  The  oracle  for  this  is  the  Kyetyotd 
or  "  puncture  of  the  fowl's  bone,"  as  it  consists  in  trying 
to  pierce  the  larger  end  of  the  thigh-bone  of  a  fowl  with 
a  small  sharpened  piece  of  bamboo.  If  the  piece  of 
bamboo  can  be  inserted  and  driven  home  into  the  bone, 
the  spirits  approve  the  clearance  and  cultivation,  but 
otherwise  the  patch  selected  must  remain  uncleared,  and 
fresh  areas  sought  till  the  approval  of  the  spirits  has 
been  won.     As  the  fowl  is  sacrificed  and  boiled  before 



the  oracle  is  consulted,  it  practically  rests  with  the 
operator  to  decide  whether  he  is  personally  in  favour  of 
the  patch  selected  being  cleared  or  not.  This  oracle  is 
consulted  with  much  secrecy.  Although  for  very  many 
years  my  work  in  the  forests  lay  among  the  Karen  and 
was  specially  connected  with  their  Taungya  cultivation, 
yet  I  never  was  encouraged  to  ask  if  I  might  be  pre- 
sent at  a  consultation :  nor  have  I  ever  heard  of  any 
brother  officer  being  witness  of  the  ceremony.  Perhaps 
a  D6,  or  a  Tkw^tkauk  who  had  "drunk  blood" — the 
equivalent  of  the  beer  "  Bruderschaft "  of  German  stu- 
dents— might  be  allowed  to  be  present  without  vitiating 
the  solemn  procedure. 

The  area  selected  being  approved  of  by  the  spirits, 
the  trees  and  bamboo  jungle  are  felled  and  left  for  a 
few  weeks  to  dry.  Towards  the  end  of  March  or  early 
in  April  this  mass  of  inflammable  matter  is  fired,  and  the 
operation  repeated  to  make  the  clearance  as  effectual  as 
is  practicable.  Thus  richly  manured,  the  rice  sown  at 
the  advent  of  the  rains  yields  a  good  return. 

On  the  Shan  hills  another  effective  form  of  scarecrow 
consists  of  a  tailed  windmill,  which  is  set  automatically 
by  the  breeze  in  such  direction  as  will  enable  two 
wooden  hammers  to  play  upon  a  small  hollow  trough 
of  wood  like  an  inverted  cattle  bell.  It  makes  a  harsh, 
unpleasant  noise,  but  is  of  course  inoperative  except 
when  there  is  a  certain  amount  of  breeze,  which,  how- 
ever, seldom  fails  on  the  pleasant  Shan  uplands. 

Except  as  regards  crop-watching,  the  cultivator  has 
little  or  no  call  upon  his  time  between  the  seasons  of 
transplanting  and  harvesting.  Those  who  have  small 
holdings,  or  whose  crops  have  been  damaged  by  floods 
or  destroyed  by  drought,  occasionally  cut  fuel  or  bam- 
boos for  sale,  or  catch  fish  for  their  own  consumption. 
Those  who  are  more  fortunate,  as  often  as  not  pass  the 
time  in  gambling  away  what  remains  of  their  last  year's 
gains  ;  but  the  really  industrious  and  frugal  can  often 
earn  thirty  to  sixty  rupees  {£2  to  £^)  by  cartage. 

About  the  end  of  November  in  the  earlier  and  drier 
tracks,  and  elsewhere  in  December,  the  harvest  com- 
mences.     The    crop   is    cut   with   a   sickle,    bound   in 



sheaves,  and  left  for  a  few  days  to  dry,  before  being 
brought  to  the  threshing-floor  on  sledges  or  on  carts. 
In  the  Talaing  tracts  of  the  delta  before  reaping  com- 
mences an  effigy  of  straw  covered  with  a  woman's  gar- 
ments and  bearing  a  pot  of  cooked  rice  is  placed  in  a 
cart  and  driven  round  the  fields  to  propitiate  the 
Pomnaso  Nat  or  "guardian  spirit  of  the  earth."  The 
rice  is  then  eaten  by  the  village  children,  and  the  effigy 
is  placed  on  the  grain  shed. 

The  threshing- tloor  {Kauktaliit)  is  generally  made  in 
the  fields,  or  on  the  outskirts  of  the  village  in  the  case 
of  cultivators  whose  lands  are  close  by.  The  ground 
being  smoothed  off  for  a  space  of  about  twenty  feet 
square  or  more,  this  is  covered  over  with  cow-dung  and 
beaten  to  a  hard  surface,  in  the  centre  of  which  a  stake 
is  driven  into  the  ground.  The  grain  having  been 
brought  on  sledges  or  carts  to  the  threshing-floor  and 
piled  in  a  stack  near  it,  the  rows  of  sheaves  are  laid 
two  or  three  deep,  and  with  their  heads  together  in 
circles  round  the  central  stake.  Then  cattle  are  driven 
round  and  round  this  to  tread  out  the  grain.  Slowly 
the  heavy  buffaloes  or  the  bullocks  toil  round  the  stake, 
pressing  out  the  grain  from  the  ear,  and  lazily  lifting  up 
a  few  straws  which  they  chew  as  they  perform  their 
circuit.  For  the  ancient  law  of  the  East,  recorded  by 
the  Israelites  for  their  own  national  guidance  close  upon 
thirty-five  centuries  ago  (Deut.  xxv.  4),  still  holds — even 
like  this  primitive  method  of  threshing  itself — by  imme- 
morial custom  the  position  of  an  unwritten  law  among 
the  Burmese,  "  Thou  shalt  not  muzzle  the  ox  when  he 
treadeth  out  the  corn." 

When  the  weary  rounds  of  the  cattle  have  been  con- 
tinued to  a  sufficient  extent,  the  grain  is  winnowed. 
The  simplest  process  consists  in  one  man  throwing  it  up 
into  the  air  from  a  large  shallow  tray  of  light  bamboo 
mat-work,  while  five  or  six  others  stand  around  and  fan 
away  the  chaff  with  similar  trays  before  the  grain  falls  to 
the  ground.  Another  common  method  is  to  raise  a 
platform  of  bamboos  at  a  height  of  five  or  six  feet  above 
the  ground,  and  to  shoot  the  paddy  into  the  air,  the 
good  grains  falling  on  a  sloping  mat  and  settling  in  a 



heap  while  the  chaff  and  straw  dust  are  wafted  away  by 
the  light  breeze  which  usually  springs  up  in  the  morning 
and  towards  evening.  In  some  of  the  more  advanced 
tracts  of  the  delta  the  use  of  hand-winnowing  machines 
{Hdt)  of  simple  construction  has  during  the  last  twenty 
years  or  so  been  gradually  spreading ;  for  the  Burmese 
cultivator  does  not  object  to  any  useful  innovation  which 
has  the  great  advantage  of  reducing  his  personal  labour 
while  bringing  material  benefits  at  the  same  time.  Any 
innovation  which  causes  him  individually  more  trouble 
is,  however,  a  violation  of  the  unwritten  law  of  "  custom," 
and  a  thing  to  be  avoided  arid  opposed.  The  hand- 
winnowing  machine  consists  of  fans  fixed  to  a  revolving 
spindle,  and  enclosed  in  a  light  casing  of  wood.  Poured 
in  at  a  hopper  on  the  top  the  heavy  grain  passes  down 
between  the  revolving  fans,  driven  swiftly  by  an  outside 
handle,  and  comes  out  clean  from  a  bell-shaped  spout  at 
the  lower  end  of  the  machine,  while  the  light  grain  and 
straw  are  blown  out  of  the  open  ends. 

As  soon  as  winnowed  the  paddy  (Sabd)  is  ready  for 
sale  or  for  storing  in  the  granary  [Sabdgyi).  But  first 
of  all  the  wages  of  any  labourers  employed  in  ploughing, 
transplanting,  or  reaping  have  to  be  measured  out,  for 
these  are  usually  paid  in  kind.  Debts  to  creditors  are 
also  generally  paid  on  the  threshing-floor  at  rates  per 
lOO  baskets  as  previously  agreed  on  ;  and  only  the  sur- 
plus that  then  remains  forms  the  cultivator's  net  return 
for  the  year. 

Out  of  this  balance  a  sufficient  quantity  is  laid  aside 
for  the  food  of  the  family  and  of  next  year's  agricultural 
labourers,  and  is  stored  in  small  granaries  consisting  of 
a  large  round  frame-work  of  woven  bamboo  bedaubed 
with  a  thick  waterproof  coating  of  cowdung  and  mud, 
the  whole  being  raised  on  posts  about  three  feet  above 
the  ground,  and  roofed  in  with  thatch  to  protect  it  from 
wet.  As  a  rule  cultivators  do  not  store  up  their  sur- 
plus grain,  but  sell  it  to  the  paddy-broker  on  the  thresh- 
ing-floor, and  the  latter  makes  his  own  arrangements  for 
carting  it  to  the  river  or  the  railway.  When  the  culti- 
vator sells  the  paddy  with  delivery  at  a  stream  or  a  rail- 
way station,  he  can  always,  if  he  likes  to  take  the  trouble, 



earn  about  four  to  six  rupees   (55.  4^.  to  Ss.)   per   100 
baskets  over  the  rate  obtainable  on  the  threshing-floor. 

When  the  grain  is  being  removed  either  for  storage  in 
the  village  or  for  transport  to  one  of  the  great  rice-con- 
suming centres,  the  fields  gradually  become  cut  up  by 
small  temporary  cart-tracks,  when  once  the  ground  is 
dry  and  hard  enough  to  permit  of  sledging  or  cartage. 
The  small  ridges  or  embankments  formed  round  the 
edge  of  each  field  to  keep  in  the  water  during  the  period 
of  growth  are  cut  through  to  allow  the  easier  passage  of 
the  cart,  and  gradually  a  more  defined  and  better  worn 
track  becomes  formed  as  the  manifold  trails  converge 
on  the  village.  It  is  thus,  too,  that  in  the  purely  rural 
districts  cart-tracks  are  formed  from  village  to  village 
each  dry  season,  which  soon  become  entirely  obliterated 
and  impassable  during  the  following  rains. 

Throughout  the  ploughing  and  planting  season,  from 
June  to  October,  the  buffaloes  are  let  loose  near  the 
fields  during  the  day  without  any  herdsman,  and  are 
allowed  to  wallow  in  what  is  called  the  grazing  ground, 
even  although  it  may  be  inundated  with  water ;  but 
they  are  tied  up  at  night  near  the  cultivator's  house.  As 
every  cultivator  is  employed  on  his  fields  in  the  day- 
time, he  is  supposed  to  watch  his  own  interests,  and  to 
drive  away  cattle  that  stray  near  his  land.  It  is  conse- 
quently not  customary  among  cultivators  to  pay  compen- 
sation for  damage  done  by  cattle  during  the  daytime,  as 
the  negligence  is  attributable  to  the  landowner  not  driv- 
ing off  the  animals ;  but  damage  done  by  night  is  com- 
pensated, as  the  fault  lies  with  the  cattle-owner  in  having 
neglected  to  tie  up  his  beasts  securely.  The  buffaloes 
are  not  sent  to  the  grazing-ground,  properly  so  called, 
till  the  ploughing  is  finished ;  and  they  are  left  there 
until  the  reaping  is  over,  when  they  are  required  to  tread 
out  the  grain  upon  the  threshing-floor.  While  at  the 
grazing-ground,  a  good  deal  of  promiscuous  breeding 
takes  place,  though  nothing  is  done  systematically  for 
its  improvement  by  the  selection  of  good  sires.  After 
the  threshing  the  cattle  are  turned  loose  to  graze  in  the 

In  accordance  with  a  generally    recognized    custom, 



cultivators  of  holdings  surrounded  by  other  fields  have 
a  temporary  right  of  way  through  the  holdings  of  their 
neighbours  surrounding  them.  Until  the  end  of  the 
planting  season  a  path  must  be  left  open  of  a  width 
sufficient  to  allow  a  yoke  of  buffaloes  to  pass  abreast 
along  it.  As  the  planting  season  approaches  its  end  the 
strip  is  planted  up,  so  that  no  material  loss  is  caused 
to  its  owner.  Great  doubts  have  arisen  as  to  the 
validity  of  this  custom  owing  to  decisions  of  civil  courts  ; 
but  without  some  consideration  being  shown  in  such  a 
matter  it  is  difficult  to  see  how  the  owners  of  interior 
fields  could  otherwise  reach  their  holdings  for  cultural 
purposes.  The  want  of  any  definite  modus  operandi  in 
such  cases  is  often  the  cause  of  frequent  quarrels  among 

During  the  dry  season  the  clayey  or  stiff  loamy  soil 
becomes  fissured  with  deep  cracks  through  the  sun's 
heat.  Towards  March,  when  the  hot  season  is  com- 
mencing, the  tufts  of  paddy  straw  left  standing  to 
the  height  of  about  a  foot  or  more  are  set  fire  to  in 
accordance  with  immemorial  custom,  and  the  atmosphere 
becomes  hazy,  oppressive,  and  laden  with  tiny  bits  of 
charred  straw  which  ascend  and  are  carried  long  dis- 
tances with  the  currents  of  air.  A  good  deal  of  this 
burned  rice-straw  finds  its  way  into  the  cracks  in  the 
soil,  and  this,  together  with  the  casual  droppings  of  the 
cattle  grazed  there  after  the  harvest,  constitutes  all  the 
manuring  ever  given  to  the  fields.  The  burning  of  the 
straw  seems,  however,  to  be  customary  rather  with  a 
view  to  speeding  the  plough  than  to  enriching  the  soil ; 
for,  though  soft  and  perishable,  the  wisps  of  straw  do 
not  decompose  rapidly  enough  with  the  first  showers  of 
rain  to  prevent  them  catching  in  the  teeth  of  the  harrow 
and  interfering  with  its  progress  when  ploughing  opera- 
tions are  commenced. 

When  the  fields  have  been  fired  in  this  manner,  the 
glare  of  heat  reflected  from  them  is  intense,  while  the 
hot  haze  rising  from  the  ground  makes  objects  at  any 
little  distance  appear  as  if  they  were  quivering  in  the 
fierce  tropical  heat.  Survey  and  levelling  operations 
during  March  and  April  are  consequently  difficult ;  for 



the  numbers  on  the  levelling  staves  look  as  if  they  were 
dancing  about  in  never-ending  restlessness. 

In  low-lying  lands,  which  form  lakes  during  the  rainy 
season  till  the  water  runs  off  at  the  beginning  of  the 
dry  weather,  the  land  is  cultivated  for  a  dry- weather 
crop  (Mayin).  The  soil  is  ploughed  about  November,  and 
the  paddy  reaped  during  March  or  April.  The  fields 
have  no  marginal  bunds,  only  small  spaces  of  un- 
ploughed  land  being  left  to  separate  them. 

Apart  from  the  dry  central  zone  of  Upper  Burma, 
where  cultivation  is  either  partially  or  solely  dependent  on 
water  from  irrigation  channels,  a  hot- weather  crop  is  also 
obtained  in  the  tracts  having  only  a  comparatively  small 
rainfall  for  Burma,  by  a  simple  temporary  system  of 
irrigation  either  through  damming  up  a  stream  and 
diverting  its  flow,  or  else  through  the  use  of  a  self-acting 
water-wheel  driven  by  a  large,  deep  stream.  These 
water-wheels  (Yehdt,  Yit)  are  only  to  be  found  in  the 
Thayetmyo  and  Toungoo  districts  of  Lower  Burma,  but 
they  are  not  uncommon  in  the  Katha  district  of  Upper 
Burma,  the  former  Shan  State  of  Wuntho ;  while  their 
use  extends  across  the  Shan  country  into  Siam.  They 
seem  thus  to  be  a  Shan  method  of  cultivation  only 
infrequently  practised  in  Burma.  Except  the  Y-like 
posts  and  the  axle  resting  on  them,  these  water-wheels 
are  made  entirely  of  bamboos,  lashed  with  cane  where 
joints  have  to  be  tied.  Unless  the  current  of  water 
in  the  stream  be  strong  enough,  the  wheel  has  to  be 
worked  by  a  man.  It  is  about  twelve  feet  in  diameter, 
— though  this,  of  course,  varies  with  the  height  of  the 
bank  above  the  water-level, — and  consists  of  a  double 
row  of  bamboos,  each  about  three  feet  long,  a  node 
forming  the  base  and  the  top  end  being  open.  The  open 
mouths  of  this  double  row  of  bamboo  buckets  point  up- 
wards towards  each  other  at  an  angle  of  about  40°.  As 
the  wheel  is  moved  in  the  direction  of  the  flow  of  water, 
the  bamboo  buckets  descend  empty  into  the  stream,  fill 
themselves,  and  are  borne  upwards  on  the  other  side.  In 
tipping  over  again  on  reaching  the  top,  the  bamboos 
empty  themselves  of  their  contents,  the  water  falling 
into  a  hollow  palm-stem  or  wooden  trough  which  feeds 



the  irrigation  channel    that  leads   off    the  water  to  the 

The  total  area  of  the  land  irrigated  in  Lower  Burma 
is  extremely  small,  amounting  only  to  5,069  acres,  or 
less  than  eight  square  miles  ;  whereas  in  Upper  Burma 
the  area  irrigated  extended  in  1899- 1900  to  799,021 
acres,  or  1,248  square  miles.  Over  two-thirds  of  this 
latter  total  is  irrigated  from  private  canals,  tanks,  wells, 
and  other  sources ;  but  when  once  the  Government 
canals  are  completed  and  in  operation,  the  area  under 
irrigation  will  become  enormously  increased  {vide  chap, 
ix.  p.  246). 

Throughout  the  dry  tracts  with  precarious  rainfall  in 
central  Burma  the  methods  of  cultivating  rice  are  in  the 
main  similar  to  those  above  described  for  the  moister 
localities.  From  climatic  causes,  however,  the  varieties  of 
rice  grown  are  not  only  much  more  numerous, — numerous 
enough  though  they  be  even  in  Lower  Burma, — but  the 
range  of  different  crops  is  also  much  greater.  Black, 
red,  green,  white,  and  yellow  kinds  of  paddy  are  sub- 
divided into  long,  short,  round,  rough,  or  smooth 
varieties,  according  to  the  peculiarities  of  the  husk  or 
the  grain  ;  and  each  has  its  distinctive  name.  Of  the 
other  crops  grown,  millets,  peas,  sessamum,  and  cotton 
are  the  chief. 

Speaking  broadly,  three  agricultural  seasons  may  be 
distinguished  in  the  central  dry  zone,  but  it  should  be 
borne  in  mind  that  they  are  all  in  ordinary  years  to  a 
greater  or  less  extent  dependent  on  irrigation,  while  in 
years  of  abnormally  light  rainfall  they  are  practically 
entirely  dependent  on  such  artificial  water  supply.  The 
Kaukgyi,  or  "  rice  which  takes  long  in  growth,"  the 
south-west  monsoon  crop  corresponding  to  the  paddy 
grown  throughout  moist  localities  during  the  rainy 
season,  is  cultivated  from  June  or  July  to  December  or 
January.  The  fields  are  then  left  fallow  for  about  two 
months  or  more,  before  being  utilized  for  the  hot-weather 
crop  of  Kaukti,  or  "rice  that  soon  ripens,"  which  is 
harvested  in  June.  The  successful  cultivation  oi  Kaukti 
depends  on  an  uninterrupted  flow  of  irrigation  during  the 
months  of  March,  April,  and  May,  and  on  early  mon- 



soon  rain  in  June.  Where  irrigation  is  not  obtainable, 
dry  crops  of  millet,  peas,  etc.,  are  grown  during  the  four 
to  five  months  when  the  land  is  not  required  for  the 
Katikgyi,  the   chief  crop  of   the  year. 

As  in  Lower  Burma,  the  Mayfn  or  dry-season  paddy  is 
generally  grown  in  swamps  within  the  line  of  river  floods 
subsiding  in  October  and  leaving  bare  the  land  near  the 
marshes.  When  water  is  not  available  from  the  swamps 
it  has  to  be  obtained  by  irrigation  from  tanks  or  dammed- 
up  streams,  or  by  means  of  a  water-lift.  The  approved 
method  of  cultivating  Mayin  is  to  give  water  frequently, 
but  in  small  quantities.  The  hot  sun  of  early  spring 
is  apt  to  make  the  plants  run  to  straw,  but  this  tendency 
can  be  checked  by  cutting  off  the  water  supply  and 
leaving  the  base  of  the  plant  bare  for  a  few  days. 

The  outturn  of  rice,  even  in  the  best  irri^^ated 
tracts,  is  not  so  manifold  as  in  the  more  fertile  tracts  of 
the  Irrawaddy  delta.  For  Katikgyi  the  average  crop 
yielded  varies  from  about  thirty  to  sixty  nine  -  gallon 
baskets  per  acre ;  for  Mayin  it  is  from  thirty  to  forty, 
and  for  Kaukti  only  about  thirty  baskets.  That  is  to 
say,  the  hotter  the  season  of  the  year  and  the  lower  the 
atmospheric  humidity,  the  smaller  is  the  outturn  in  grain 
yielded  by  the  crop  then  in  cultivation.  And  these 
smaller  results,  too,  are  only  obtained  with  better  agri- 
culture than  is  practised  in  the  districts  blessed  with 
never- failing  copious  summer  rainfall.  Inverted  first  of 
all  with  a  plough  {Te\  broken  up  with  a  clod-crusher 
(Kyandon),  worked  with  a  harrow  {Tundon),  diligently 
weeded  with  hoes  [Pauktii)  and  spades  (Taywin\  and 
sometimes  also  manured  with  cowdung,  burnt  straw, 
and  wood  ashes,  the  soil  is  altogether  poorer  and  less 
productive,  even  when  abundant  supplies  of  water  are 
available,  than  the  rich  fertile  alluvial  deposits  forming 
the  lower  portion  of  the  Irrawaddy  valley  near  the  sea 
coast.  There  is  a  struggle  with  nature  which  is  unknown 
to  the  careless  cultivator  of  the  richer  tracts,  which  are 
not  only  endowed  with  greater  productivity  as  to  soil, 
but  also  enjoy  more  favourable  climatic  and  physical 
conditions  for  the  cultivation  of  rice.  And  in  conse- 
quence   of    this    struggle   the   agricultural    methods    of 



central  Burma  are   better  and  more    intensive   than   in 
the  wet  tracts. 

Without  ever  having  heard  of  nitrogen  or  having 
been  told  that  in  its  descent  rain  carries  down  from  the 
atmosphere  small  supplies  of  nitrogen,  oxygen,  carbonic 
acid,  and  ammonia  dissolved  from  chlorides,  sulphates, 
and  nitrates  of  sodium,  calcium,  and  ammonium — without 
having  any  technical  education  in  agriculture,  or  any 
knowledge  of  agricultural  chemistry — the  ignorant 
cultivator  in  the  dry  zone  of  Upper  Burma  knows,  from 
his  own  observation,  that  rain-water  is,  measure  for 
measure,  more  valuable  than  irrigation  water,  and  that 
at  certain  stages  of  the  growth  of  the  paddy-plant  rain- 
fall is  particularly  beneficial,  namely,  when  the  ear  is  first 
forming  inside,  and  when  it  is  on  the  point  of  bursting 
from  its  covering  sheath.  Throughout  the  whole 
country  a  proverb  is  current  that  "  Tazaungmon 
(November)  rain  is  worth  one  hundred  thousand  ticals 
of  pure  gold."  When  once  exposed  to  the  air,  the  ear 
does  better  without  rain.  He  has  also  learned  from 
experience  that  the  more  labour  he  expends  in  tillage  of 
the  soil,  the  larger  will  be  its  yield.  The  good  effects  of 
thorough  ploughing,  harrowing,  and  weeding  are  more 
prominently  conspicuous  than  the  advantages  of  manur- 

Before  breaking  up  the  land  it  has  to  be  irrigated 
with  about  five  inches  of  water,  and  as  each  double 
course  of  ploughing  and  cross-ploughing  or  harrowing 
takes  place  a  similar  additional  supply  of  water  has  to 
be  provided.  All  the  lower-lying  and  favourably 
situated  land  is  planted,  while  broadcast  sowing  is 
adopted  in  the  case  of  land  that  is  higher  and  more 
remote  from  the  irrigation  channels,  as  on  these  lands 
the  season  of  growth  is  shortened  by  the  later  arrival  of 
the  water  supply. 

When  the  transplants  are  set  out  in  the  fields,  a 
dressing  of  about  four  or  five  inches  of  water  is  given 
to  the  soil,  and  subsequently  flushes  of  about  the  same 
depth  are  given  every  seven  to  ten  days  as  required. 
A  clear  sky,  a  hot  sun,  and  a  drying  wind  of  course 
necessitate   more   frequent   demands   for    irrigation    by 



causing  rapid  evaporation  of  the  water  and  stimulating 
transpiration  in  the  plants.  Sometimes,  however,  it  is 
necessary  to  withhold  water  temporarily  in  order  to 
check  any  tendency  to  run  to  straw,  but  this  expedient 
has  only  to  be  adopted  on  the  best  classes  of  soil. 

In  Kaukgyi  crops  the  ear  begins  to  form  about  sixteen 
to  nineteen  weeks  after  planting.  A  fortnight  later  it  is 
clear  of  its  protecting  sheath  ;  and  three  weeks  after  that 
it  is  ripe.  The  last  irrigation  is  given  while  the  ear  is 
forcing  itself  clear  of  its  case,  about  twenty-five  days 
before  harvest,  and  after  that  the  field  is  allowed  to  dry 
up  gradually  as  the  time  for  reaping  approaches. 

The  total  quantity  of  water  required  for  ploughing 
and  harrowing  five  times  in  double  course,  and  for 
watering  once  every  eight  to  nine  days  during  four  and  a 
half  months  of  growth, — flushes  of  water  being  each 
time  given  to  the  depth  of  five  inches, — amounts  to 
between  lOO  and  105  inches. 

For  the  Kaukti  or  hot- weather  crop  nurseries  are 
planted  near  the  main  irrigation  channels  or  large  tanks. 
These  are  at  their  lowest  water-level  during  February 
and  March,  and  remain  low  till  they  are  filled  up  again 
from  the  second  half  of  April  onwards  by  the  early 
rains  falling  on  the  hills  forming  the  water  catchment 
area.  Transplanting  takes  place  during  March,  or  broad- 
cast sowing  a  little  earlier.  The  great  solar  heat, 
the  hot  winds,  and  the  low  relative  humidity  of  the 
intensely  dry  atmosphere  during  the  fiercely  hot  months 
of  April,  May,  and  June,  cause  the  Kazikti  paddy  crop 
to  make  large  demands  on  the  water  supply.  On  the 
average  an  inch  of  water  is  required  daily  during  the 
seventy  days  which  elapse  between  transplanting  and 
the  final  disuse  of  irrigation  water ;  and  during  the 
three  to  four  months  it  occupies  the  soil,  the  total 
demand  for  water  made  by  the  crop  amounts  to  about 
ninety  inches. 

Taking  the  average  rainfall  in  the  precarious  tracts  as 
being  twenty  inches  a  year,  distributed  in  about  the 
ratio  of  twelve  inches  during  the  Kaukgyi  and  eight 
during  the  Kaukti  season,  those  crops  would  appear  to 
require  about  1 14  and  98  inches  of  water,  or  an  annual 



total  of  212  inches  for  the  land  cultivated.  About  one- 
third  of  this  being  irrigation  water  supplied  from 
December  to  the  middle  of  May,  there  remain  about  140 
inches  of  combined  rainfall  and  irrigation  water  neces- 
sary for  paddy  cultivation  during  the  south-west  monsoon 
period,  lasting  from  about  the  middle  of  May  till  the  end 
of  November.  If  the  rainfall  be  deficient,  the  success 
of  cultivation  must  mainly  depend  upon  such  shortage 
of  water  being  met  by  supplies  from  irrigation  canals. 
Allowing  for  the  rapid  evaporation  caused  by  hot  dry 
winds,  and  for  the  enhanced  transpiration  of  the  paddy 
plants  induced  by  isolation,  chese  140  inches  of  water 
just  about  represent  the  equivalent  of  the  90  to  120 
inches  of  rainfall  which  the  south-west  monsoon  bestows 
gratuitously  upon  the  fields  in  many  of  the  most  pro- 
ductive portions  of  Lower  Burma. 

As  in  other  parts  of  the  country,  various  tracts  have 
their  own  superstitions  and  ceremonies  with  regard  to 
cultivation.  Formerly  the  Kings  of  Burma  performed, 
along  with  the  Princes  and  Ministers,  a  ploughing  cere- 
mony [Letun  Mingala)  in  the  month  of  Waso,  or 
"  beginning  of  Lent "  (about  June  or  July)  in  each  year, 
as  is  still  done  by  the  Minister  of  Agriculture  in  Siam, 
and  also  in  China.  But  the  practice  fell  into  abeyance 
during  King  Mindon's  time,  and  was  entirely  discon- 
tinued after  his  death,  for  King  Thibaw  never  had 
courage  to  leave  his  palace  for  any  such  ceremonies. 
The  royal  ploughing  took  place  in  a  portion  of  the 
Ledawyd,  or  "  royal  fields,"  a  little  to  the  east  of  the  city. 
Its  object  was  to  secure  a  favourable  rainy  season  for  the 

Around  Mandalay,  where  transplanting  from  the 
nurseries  into  the  fields  is  often  delayed  till  late  in 
August,  owing  to  scarcity  of  rainfall  and  uncertainty  as 
to  irrigation  being  secure  from  the  large  neighbouring 
tanks  or  lakes,  planting  operations  take  place  to  the 
accompaniment  of  clarinet,  gong,  and  cymbals.  The 
cultivators  can,  or  will,  give  no  other  explanation  of  this 
except  merely  to  assert  that  it  assists  in  making  the 
subsequent  harvest  abundant ;  but  the  idea  of  pro- 
pitiating or  scaring  away  evil  spirits  seems  very  distinctly 



indicated  in  the  din  and  clamour  thus  raised.  Fre- 
quently, too,  in  accompaniment  to  this  rude  music,  a 
woman  sways  to  and  fro  in  an  excited,  semi- frenzied 
state,  being  apparently  worked  up  into  this  condition  for 
the  purpose  of  providing  an  asylum  for  the  evil  spirits, 
as  once  of  yore  in  the  case  of  the  herd  of  swine.  In 
other  parts,  the  women  adorn  themselves  with  flowers 
and  sing  whilst  planting  the  fields,  and  rough  practical 
jokes  are  played  upon  any  stray  members  of  the  male 
sex  who  may  chance  to  come  near  them  while  thus 

A  peculiar  system,  known  as  Kow  Chow  cultivation,  is 
practised  by  the  Kachins  on  the  alluvial  lands  in  the 
Mosit  valley  (Bhamo  district)  during  every  year 
following  one  in  which  the  harvest  has  been  bad. 
The  tall  elephant  grass  being  cleared  and  fired,  the  roots 
are  also  cut  out  and  burned,  and  the  soil  is  roughly  gone 
over  with  a  small  iron  pick  attached  to  a  bamboo  handle. 
With  the  pick  in  his  right  hand,  and  grain  in  his  left, 
the  cultivator  stoops  down  and  makes  a  series  of  rapid 
strokes  in  front  of  and  to  each  side  of  him,  the  seed-strain 
being  dropped  into  each  hole  as  it  is  made.  Advancing 
with  short  quick  paces,  he  kicks  up  his  legs  at  each  step, 
much  in  the  manner  of  a  hen  scratching  in  search  of  food, 
and  keeps  shrieking  and  yelling  all  the  while.  The  out- 
turn from  this  method  of  cultivation  is  only  about  twenty 
to  twenty-five  baskets  of  paddy  per  acre,  as  compared 
with  thirty  to  thirty-five  commonly  yielded  there  by  the 
ordinary  Taungya  cultivation  ;  but  the  harvest  is  reaped 
within  four  months  under  Kow  Chow,  whereas  five 
months  are  requisite  before  Taungya  grain  is  ripe  for 

On  the  whole,  paddj^-crops  enjoy  comparative  immunity 
from  fungous  diseases  and  insect  enemies,  though  the 
latter  sometimes  cause  considerable  damage,  particularly 
during  the  month  preceding  harvest,  in  seasons  during 
which  the  growth  of  the  crops  is  less  vigorous  than  usual. 
Some  of  these  insects,  attacking  either  the  root,  the  stalk, 
or  the  leaves  of  plants  standing  in  deep  water,  can  be 
got  rid  of  by  cutting  through  the  marginal  bunds  and 
letting  the  water  run  off  temporarily  ;  while  others,  later 



on,  gnaw  through  the  stalk  or  attack  the  ear  and  the 
grain.  Small  land-crabs  also  at  times  do  a  great  deal  of 
damage  in  the  dry  zone  by  nipping  the  paddy-stalks,  as 
well  as  by  burrowing  through  the  small  mounds  dividing 
the  fields  and  thus  letting  the  water  out.  The  great 
ally  of  the  cultivator  against  the  enemy  is  the  crow,  which 
hunts  the  crab  and  pecks  a  hole  in  his  back.  In  some  of 
the  districts  fringing  the  sea-coast  myriads  of  other  small 
crabs  come  up  out  of  the  sea,  and  spread  over  the  land, 
destroying  the  seed-grain  while  it  is  germinating  or  the 
young  plants  which  have  sprouted  from  it.  They  infest 
the  fields  during  June  and  July,  before  returning  to  the 
sea  in  August.  The  cultivators  affect  to  believe  that 
paddy  sown  in  fields  infested  by  these  crabs  will  not 
germinate ;  but  in  any  case  it  is  necessary  to  get  rid  of 
them  by  running  or,  if  necessary,  baling  off  the  water 
from  the  fields  and  carefully  repairing  the  marginal 
bunds.  Wild  elephants,  wild  pigs,  and  deer  often  do 
much  damage  in  tracts  abutting  on  forest  jungle.  Large 
herds  of  elephants  sometimes  devastate  the  cultivation 
and  terrorize  the  villaofers  to  such  an  extent  that  rewards 
have  to  be  offered  by  Government  for  their  slaughter, 
even  though  there  is  an  Elephant  Act  in  force  in  Lower 
Burma  for  the  special  protection  of  these  animals,  so 
useful  for  timber-dragging  and  commissiariat  transport 

The  usual  size  of  agricultural  holdings  varies  con- 
siderably in  different  parts  of  the  country  and  even  in  the 
different  parts  of  the  several  districts  forming  each  civil 
division.  Thus  the  Revenue  Settlement  operations  show 
that  in  some  localities  the  average  size  of  the  holding 
does  not  exceed  ten  to  fifteen  acres,  while  in  other  places 
it  varies  from  fifteen  to  twenty,  and  in  others  again  from 
twenty  to  twenty-six  acres.  In  that  portion  of  the  Tharra- 
waddy  district  which  was  setded  during  1882-83  the 
average  holding  was  found  to  be  as  low  as  6J  acres  :  but 
this  is  about  the  most  thickly  populated  part  of  rural 
Burma,  and  the  people  do  not  look  to  agriculture  alone 
as  a  means  of  livelihood.  Taking  the  statistics  for  the 
whole  province,  the  average  holding  would  be  about 
sixteen  acres. 



Throughout  most  of  the  villages  in  the  rural  tracts 
men,  women,  and  children  all  take  part  in  the  agricultural 
occupations,  although  in  riverine  villages  whole  families 
often  support  themselves  from  the  retail  sale  of  petty 
commodities  and  eatables. 

The  average  number  of  the  cultivating  family  is  five 
souls,  consisting  of  the  cultivator,  his  wife,  and  three 
children.  To  be  barren  is  a  reproach,  and  the  laws  of 
Manii  lay  down  that  a  childless  wife  should  be  divorced. 
Only  less  despised  is  a  woman  who  bears  no  more  than 
one  child.  A  woman  who  has  two  children  enjoys  a  fair 
measure  of  respect,  but  it  is  not  until  she  bears  her  third 
child  that  the  Burmese  matron  is  considered  to  be  both 
praiseworthy  as  a  wife  and  crowned  with  honour  as  a 
woman.  As  the  birth  customs  are  rather  barbarous,  this 
probably  explains  the  fact  that  more  than  three  children 
are  seldom  to  be  found  in  Burmese  families.  More  are 
born,  but  owing  to  want  of  care  and  to  bad  food  the 
mortality  among  children  is  high. 

Up  to  the  age  of  six  or  seven  years  the  every-day 
attire  worn  by  small  children  consists  only  of  a  pair  of 
silver  anklets  worth  a  few  rupees  or  a  silver  amulet  of 
nominal  value  hung  round  the  neck  by  a  piece  of  dirty 
string,  but  more  commonly  they  are  allowed  to  run 
absolutely  stark  naked.  On  ceremonial  days,  holidays, 
and  festivals,  however,  they  are  gaily  clad  in  tiny  gar- 
ments like  those  worn  by  their  parents.  Thus  attired, 
they  for  the  time  lose  their  natural  gaiety,  and  look 
like  preternaturally  solemn  little  caricatures  of  grown- 
up people.  During  the  rainy  season  the  children 
play  about  in  the  rain  and  the  water  to  such  an  extent 
that  it  seems  marvellous  how  any  of  them  escape  death 
from  fever  or  dysentery.  Perhaps  it  is  owing  to  such 
Spartan  treatment  that  the  Burmese  are,  on  the  whole, 
a  remarkably  sound  and  healthy  race  ;  for  the  weaklings 
must  either  get  killed  off  or  else  become  strengthened  in 
constitution.  For  the  next  six  or  seven  years,  up  to  about 
twelve  years  of  age  or  so,  the  village  children  usually  wear 
the  cast-off  clothes  of  their  parents,  cut  down  to  suit  them  ; 
but  as  the  whole  costume  only  consists  of  a  waist-cloth, 
a  cotton  jacket,  and  a  handkerchief  turban,  the  question 

337  2 


of  every-day  clothing  is  extremely  simple.  After 
performing  his  religious  duty  as  a  Mating  Shin  or 
novice  at  the  village  monastery,  the  young  lad  comes 
back  to  worldly  life  as  one  fitted  to  enter  in  due 
course  upon  the  duties  of  manhood.  Young  men  usually 
marry  about  the  age  of  sixteen  to  eighteen,  and  then 
either  go  to  reside  for  a  time  with  their  parents-in-law,  or 
else  found  a  new  household  and  begin  cultivation  on  their 
own  account.  The  girls  generally  marry  about  the  age 
of  fourteen  or  sixteen. 

Formerly  the  custom  universally  adhered  to  was  that 
the  son-in-law  should  get  broken  in  to  the  yoke  of 
married  life  by  residing  for  two  or  three  years  under  the 
roof-tree  of  his  father-in-law,  working  for  him  till  the 
time  arrived  when,  sanctioned  by  usage,  he  and  his  wife 
could  build  a  house  for  themselves  and  the  firstfruits  of 
their  marriage,  and  set  up  on  their  own  account.  The  little 
expense  which  setting  up  house  and  beginning  cultivation 
necessitated  was  easily  covered  by  the  share  of  the  out- 
turn from  the  fields  which  was  earned  by  the  young  man 
for  the  assistance  given  to  his  father-in-law.  A  gift  of 
cattle,  money,  or  land  was  also  commonly  made  by  the 
parents-in-law.  Like  many  other  old  national  customs, 
this  ancient  usage  is  now  rapidly  falling  into  desuetude, 
especially  in  the  more  civilized  localities  near  the  sea- 
board and  the  trading  centres,  where  young  couples  are 
now  apt  to  show  a  preference  for  assuming  at  once  the 
responsibilities  of  a  separate  household  and  an  indepen- 
dent existence.  There  is  thus,  as  a  rule,  now  only  one 
male  adult  cultivator  in  each  household  ;  and  this  explains 
the  fact  that  the  extensive  employment  of  hired  labour  is 
necessitated  wherever  the  holding  exceeds  about  twelve 
to  fifteen  acres,  this  being  the  average  area  which  the 
ordinary  family  is  able  to  cultivate  without  assistance. 

The  preparation  of  the  soil  with  plough  and  harrow 
being  completed  by  the  agriculturist,  his  wife  and  children 
assist  in  the  cultivation  of  the  holding  by  taking  the 
young  paddy  plants  from  the  nursery  and  transplanting 
them  in  the  fields  in  midsummer  and  by  reaping  and 
winnowing  the  grain  five  or  six  months  later. 

In  the  towns  the  standard  of  living  has  risen,  as  might 



naturally  be  expected,  and  it  is  still  rising ;  but  in  the 
interior  of  the  country  the  mode  of  living  remains  un- 
changed as  yet  in  its  extreme  frugality  so  far  as  food  is 
concerned.  This  consists  simply  of  boiled  rice,  with 
salted,  fresh,  or  dried  fish,  salt,  sessamum-oil,  chillies, 
onions,  turmeric,  boiled  vegetables,  and  occasionally  meat 
of  some  sort  from  elephant  flesh  down  to  smaller  animals 
and  fowls,  by  way  of  condiment.  Even  the  secundines, 
or  after-birth  of  cattle,  are  often  eaten,  and  this  is  some- 
times referred  to  in  disputes  as  proof  of  the  ownership  of 
the  animal.  The  staple  article  of  diet  is  boiled  rice 
{Tamin),  while  all  the  rest  of  the  meal  is  classed  as  curry 
or  condiment  (Hin),  and  "  to  eat  rice  "  is  the  only  expres- 
sion used  with  regard  to  a  meal.  The  rice  is  produced  on  a 
man's  own  land,  the  vegetables  are  grown  around  his  house 
or  are  simply  wild  herbs  gathered  in  the  jungle,  and  the 
fish  are  often  caught  by  himself  or  his  children  ;  so  salt, 
salted  fish,  and  curry  stuff  are  all  he  needs  to  buy.  His 
every-day  clothes  and  those  of  his  family  are  made  of 
coarse  cotton,  and  are  generally  woven  by  his  wife  or 
daughters.  The  only  articles  of  apparel  bought  in  the 
bazaar  are,  as  a  rule,  the  silk  waist-cloth  and  the  gaudy 
silk  kerchief  worn  as  a  turban  on  high  days  and  holidays. 
His  house  is  built  with  posts  and  beams  of  common 
jungle-wood  or  bamboo,  with  plank  or  bamboo  flooring 
and  walls,  and  a  thatch-grass  roof.  In  most  cases  the 
cultivator  builds  it  himself,  and  he  generally  cuts  the 
grass  ( Thekkd ;  Imperatum  cylindricum)  and  prepares 
the  thatch  and  other  materials  for  its  repair  from  year  to 
year.  Except  his  cart  and  his  strong,  steel-faced,  iron 
Dd  or  bill,  without  which  the  rural  Burmese  seldom  goes 
abroad,  his  agricultural  implements  are  simple  and  of 
little  value,  and  are  generally  both  made  and  kept  in 
repair  by  himself. 

The  Burmese  agriculturist  usually  has  two  meals  a  day, 
the  first  about  nine  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  the  other 
between  three  and  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon.  At 
these  times  all  the  members  of  the  household  eat  together, 
squatting  on  the  floor  around  the  large  flat  lacquered  tray 
{Bydt)  whereon  the  potful  of  freshly  boiled,  well  steamed 
rice    has    been  poured    and    the    dishes   of   curry  and 



condiments  stand,  from  which  they  help  themselves 
with  their  fingers.  Rice  is  rarely  eaten  cold  except  when 
some  member  of  the  household  is  late  in  coming  to  the 
meal,  or  when  travelling.  For  the  use  of  those  making  a 
journey  "rice-sticks"  {Tamindok)  are  prepared  by  filling 
a  piece  of  bamboo  tightly  with  a  specially  glutinous  and 
nutritious  kind  of  rice,  and  then  roasting  it.  When  required 
for  use,  the  woody-fibrous  covering  of  bamboo  is  torn 
away  to  the  length  required,  while  the  thin  inner  cuticle 
adheres  to  the  cooked  rice  and  gives  the  "rice-stick"  the 
appearance  of  a  thick  white  sausage.  Milk  is  not  used  as 
an  article  of  diet.  This  may  perhaps  in  some  measure 
account  for  the  general  excellence  of  the  cattle  under 
somewhat  hard  circumstances  as  to  fodder  during  the  hot 
months  of  the  year. 

Thecleanrice  is  obtained  from  the  paddy  by  huskingwith 
pestle  and  mortar  made  of  hard  wood  and  worked  either 
by  hand  or  foot.  This  task  is  invariably  performed  by 
the  women  of  the  household.  The  white  rice  thus  pre- 
pared is  preferred  to  that  husked  by  machinery  in  the  steam 
rice-mills  of  the  European  firms  ;  and  in  many  villages 
the  women  carry  on  a  large  retail  trade  in  white  rice 
prepared  in  excess  of  their  own  household  requirements. 
The  amount  of  rice  consumed  is  estimated  at  one  nine- 
gallon  basket  a  month  for  each  male  adult,  one  half 
basket  for  each  woman,  and  one  quarter  basket  for  each 
child.  As  two  baskets  of  paddy  yield,  when  husked, 
one  basket  of  rice,  the  average  family  consisting  of  five 
souls  would,  during  the  course  of  the  year  require  from 
fifty-four  to  about  seventy  baskets  of  paddy  according  to 
the  age  of  the  children. 

The  average  actual  cost  of  living  to  the  agriculturist 
varies,  of  course,  very  considerably  in  different  parts  of 
the  province.  Concerning  this,  one  might  say  that  it 
varies  in  the  inverse  ratio  of  the  distance  of  any  given 
locality  from  any  of  the  great  trading  centres,  and  that 
it  probably  amounts  to  90  or  100  rupees  (^6  to  £6^)  a 
year  in  the  poorer  rural  tracts,  and  125  to  150  rupees 
{£^^  to  ;^io)  in  the  richer  districts,  exclusive  of  the 
land-revenue  demand.  The  average  value  of  the  paddy 
required  for  rice  will  be  about  forty  to  fifty  rupees  {£2% 



to  £33)  locally,  though  higher  near  the  large  towns ; 
salt  and  salted  fish,  curry  stuffs,  and  oil,  and  tobacco  and 
betel  will  cost  from  twenty  to  thirty  rupees  (^ij  to 
£2).  Clothing  will  usually  range  from  about  fifteen 
to  fifty  rupees  (^i  to  £3^)  ;  while  the  capitation 
tax  of  five  rupees  {6s.  Sd.)  for  each  married  adult 
male,  religious  offerings,  and  contingencies  may  be  put 
down  at  about  fifteen  to  twenty  rupees  (£1  to  ;^ij). 
To  provide  for  such  subsistence,  and  for  the  payment  of 
land  revenue,  the  requisite  minimum  holding  is  one  that 
will  yield  about  three  hundred  baskets  of  paddy  ;  and, 
allowing  for  fallow,  this  will  usually  be  an  area  of  about 
nine  or  ten  acres  of  land  of  average  quality.  For  a  twenty- 
acre  holding  the  cost  of  living  would  probably  be  at 
the  rate  of  a  little  over  six  rupees  (Ss.)  per  acre,  or  about 
130  rupees  {£S^)  in  all.  Where  the  holding  is  less 
than  about  ten  acres,  as  in  some  parts  of  the  Tharra- 
waddy  and  the  Prome  districts,  other  means  of  livelihood, 
such  as  cartage,  fuel-cutting,  or  petty  trade,  must  be 
adopted  to  make  both  ends  meet  and  to  maintain  the 
cultivator  in  a  solvent  and  secure  condition. 

On  such  a  ten-acre  holding  the  actual  cost  of  cultiva- 
tion would  be  about  five  rupees  (6^.  Sd.)  an  acre, 
exclusive  of  any  monetary  estimate  being  made  as  to 
the  wage-earning  capacity  of  the  cultivator  and  his 
family.  The  cost  of  cultivation  depends  chiefly  on  the 
amount  of  hired  labour  which  the  cultivator  has  to 
employ  for  his  assistance.  Some  labourers  are  employed 
for  the  whole  period  of  cultivation  extending  over  about 
nine  months  from  the  commencement  of  ploughing 
operations  to  the  storing  of  the  grain.  In  this  case  two 
men  are  usually  hired,  the  skilled  hand  who  ploughs  the 
land  getting  about  150  baskets  of  paddy,  and  the  help, 
who  cuts  the  long  grass,  weeds  the  fields,  and  herds  the 
cattle  during  the  ploughing  season,  getting  100  baskets, 
in  addition  to  his  food  during  the  time  of  service.  For 
labourers  employed  only  for  the  four  to  five  months 
which  cover  all  ploughing  and  planting  operations  the 
hire  is  generally  about  too  baskets  for  a  skilled  man  and 
fifty  to  sixty  for  ordinary  hands.  For  the  reaping  season, 
to  the  storage  of  the  winnowed  grain,  the  pay  is  usually 



fifty  baskets  of  paddy.  For  daily  labour  the  rate  is  a 
basket  of  paddy  and  the  morning  meal.  Where  the 
holdings  are  large  and  the  cultivator  has  to  hire  both 
cattle  and  labour,  the  cost  per  acre  may  rise  considerably 
above  what  it  is  where  the  holding  is  small  and  the 
whole  of  the  work  can  be  done  without  hiring  cattle, 
ploughmen,  planters,  and  reapers. 

All  items  of  necessary  expenditure  being  taken  to- 
gether, the  total  cost  of  rice  cultivation  throughout  Lower 
Burma  varies  from  about  twelve  to  twenty  rupees  (165. 
to  /ii^)  an  acre,  distributable  between  cost  of  living  at 
six  to  eight  rupees  (85.  to  lOi".  Sd.),  cost  of  cultivation  at 
five  to  nine  rupees  {6s.  Sd.  to  12^.),  and  land  revenue  at 
one  to  three  rupees  (i^.  4.d.  to  4s.)  per  acre.  Whatever 
outturn  in  paddy  the  land  yields  beyond  the  quantity 
required,  calculated  at  current  local  rates  for  grain  to 
cover  such  outlay,  therefore  represents  the  profit  derived 
from  cultivation.  This  surplus  is  soon  converted  into 
money  and  spent,  the  family  expenditure  easily  becoming 
doubled  in  any  year  when  the  harvest  has  been  good. 

In  the  dry  zone  of  central  Burma  the  standard  of 
living  is  lower,  while  the  actual  cost  is  higher  owing  to 
the  frequent  scarcity  of  rice.  It  may  perhaps  be  taken 
at  about  120  rupees  (;^8)  as  the  bare  cost  of  food  and 
clothes,  even  though  the  usual  size  of  the  family  is 
rather  smaller  than  five  souls.  The  average  cost  of 
cultivation  is  also  higher  than  in  Lower  Burma,  varying 
from  about  six  to  twelve  rupees  [Ss.  to  i6i'.)  an  acre; 
while  the  outturn,  despite  the  more  laborious  and  in- 
tensive methods  of  agriculture,  falls  far  short  of  what  is 
yielded  by  the  fertile  land  of  the  delta. 

On  the  whole,  the  condition  of  the  Burmese  agricul- 
turist can  fairly  be  considered  prosperous  and  comfort- 
able. Taxes  and  land  revenue  are  light ;  markets  for 
the  disposal  of  produce  are  constant,  and  prices  good  ; 
while  fresh  land  can  still  in  most  districts  be  obtained  on 
easy  terms  by  those  wishing  to  increase  their  holdings. 
These  favourable  conditions,  combined  with  the  careless, 
happy-go-lucky,  amusement-loving  character  of  the 
people,  make  Burma  anything  but  a  distressful  country. 
In   comparison  with  any  of  the  other  provinces  of  the 



Indian  Empire,  with  perhaps  the  sole  exception  of 
Assam,  which  resembles  Burma  in  several  important 
respects,  the  lot  of  the  Burmese  peasantry  is  one  that 
may  well  be  envied,  and  more  especially  by  those 
crowded  together  in  the  congested  districts  of  India. 
To  assist  them  to  tide  over  bad  times  loans  are  made 
to  agriculturists  on  easy  terms  by  Government.  In  this 
way  nearly  ;,^2 5,000  were  lent  in  1897-98,  nearly  the  half 
of  the  advances  being  made  in  the  eastern  portion  of 
the  dry-zone  districts  in  order  to  enable  cultivators  to 
purchase  seed  and  replace  the  cattle  which  they  had  lost 
during  the  time  of  scarcity  from  deficient  rainfall.  These 
advantages  are  fully  appreciated  by  the  people.  With 
one  or  two  favourable  seasons  there  should  be  no  diffi- 
culty in  paying  off  such  advances. 

With  regard  to  minor  forms  of  cultivation  of  the  land 
there  are  over  four  hundred  thousand  acres  or  six  hundred 
and  forty-four  square  miles  of  orchards  and  gardens, 
nearly  nine-tenths  of  which  are  to  be  found  in  Lower 
Burma.  The  great  bulk  of  these  are  for  the  cultiva- 
tion of  plantains,  while  the  betel-palm  or  areca-nut  is 
largely  grown  at  the  base  of  hills  where  water  can  easily 
be  procured  for  irrigation.  The  cultivation  of  succulent 
fruits  consists  chiefly  of  large  pine-apple  groves  and 
orchards  near  Rangoon,  and  of  custard-apple  [Anona 
squamosa)  plantations  on  the  hills  near  Prome,  which, 
seen  from  the  deck  of  a  river  steamer,  remind  one  of  the 
vineyards  on  the  Rhine.  The  other  chief  fruits  are  the 
Guava  {Psidiwn  guyava),  the  Durian  {Durio  Zideihinus) 
of  Tavoy,  which  tastes  like  a  fine  custard  spoiled  by  an 
after  flavour  of  garlic,  and  the  Mangosteen  (Garcinia 
mangostana)  of  Mergui.  Oranges  of  excellent  quality 
are  grown  largely  on  the  Karen  and  the  Shan  hills,  and 
in  Mandalay  fine  grapes  for  table  use  are  produced  in 
the  gardens  under  the  supervision  of  the  French  and 
Italian  missionaries.  Wild  apricots,  peaches,  and  quinces 
grow  all  over  the  Shan  hills,  and  fruit  culture  can  easily 
be  carried  on  there  extensively  whenever  the  Shans  may 
see  that  it  will  be  profitable. 

Experimental  gardens  have  been  established  by 
Government  at  Taunggyi  and  Maymyo  on  the  Shan  hills 



for  the  cultivation  of  European  and  selected  Indian 
fruits,  the  demand  for  which  would  be  large  on  the 
plains  of  Burma  if  good  supplies  could  be  sent  down 
regularly  at  reasonable  rates.  The  vegetables  required 
by  the  European  community  are  chiefly  obtained  from 
gardens  cultivated  near  the  large  towns  by  Chinamen, 
but  better  and  more  varied  supplies  should  soon  become 
available  now  that  the  Shan  hills  have  been  brought  into 
direct  communication  with  Rangoon  by  railway. 


Chapter    XII 


ONE  ot  the  most  characteristic  sounds  heard  in  the 
morning  or  towards  evening  in  any  Burmese 
village  is  the  dull  thud  of  the  wooden  pestle  and  mortar 
with  which  rice  is  cleaned  for  domestic  consumption. 
The  raw  paddy  is  first  of  all  husked  by  being  ground  in 
a  hand-mill  or  quern  [Kyeikson),  consisting  of  a  heavy, 
solid,  round  block  of  wood,  cone-shaped  and  grooved  at 
the  top,  and  ending  in  a  central  pole.  Fitting  over  the 
top  of  this  is  a  hollowed  block  of  wood,  whose  base,  also 
grooved,  fits  upon  the  upright  cone  of  the  solid  block. 
This  upper  portion  is  either  moved  to  and  fro  horizont- 
ally by  straight  wooden  handles  at  the  sides  of  the  upper 
movable  block,  or  else  kept  turning  continuously  in  one 
direction  by  means  of  an  arm  about  seven  or  eight  feet  in 
length  fixed  to  the  top  of  it.  For  easy  working  this  long 
arm  is  supported  from  above  by  a  rope  fixed  near  the  end  of 
the  handle,  so  as  always  to  maintain  it  at  about  the  same 
level.  The  raw  paddy  is  poured  in  at  the  top  of  the 
upper  hollowed  block  and  issues  husked  at  the  sides 
when  it  has  been  slightly  crushed  and  rubbed  by  the  play 
of  the  movable  upper  block  upon  the  fixed  lower  one. 

The  roughly  husked  paddy  is  then  placed  in  a  large 
wooden  mortar,  and  is  beaten  with  a  heavy  pestle,  also 
made  of  wood,  to  complete  the  hulling  process.  The  pestle 
may  be  worked  by  hand,  or  the  mortar  may  be  fixed  in  the 
ground  and  the  pestle  worked  by  foot  through  the  leverage 
obtained  by  treading  on  the  short  arm  of  a  horizontal 
wooden  bar,  also  fixed  near  the  ground  at  its  fulcrum,  to 
the  long  end  of  which  the  pestle  is  attached,  like  the  head 
of  a  hammer.     By  treading  with  the  foot  on  the  short  end 



of  the  lever  the  pestle  is  raised  by  the  weight  of  the  body  ; 
and  on  the  latter  being  removed,  the  pestle  descends 
again  heavily  into  the  mortar  filled  with  grain. 

For  working  the  hand-mortar,  hollowed  out  of  a  block 
of  wood  about  two  and  a  half  feet  high,  pestles  of  about 
three  feet  long,  narrowing  in  the  centre  to  give  a  good 
hand-grip,  but  symmetrical  above  and  below  this  for 
greater  effectiveness,  are  raised  up  high  with  both  hands 
and  brought  straight  down  with  considerable  force.  Very 
frequently  these  hand-mortars  are  worked  by  two  women, 
whose  pestles  alternately  ascend  and  descend  in  rapid 
strokes  like  the  piston-rods  of  a  steam-engine. 

Rice-cleaning  with  the  foot  pestle  fixed  in  the  ground 
below  the  house  is  a  comparatively  easy  sort  of  work,  with 
which  smoking  and  gossip  can  be  combined ;  but  the  use 
of  the  hand-quern  means  hard  exercise,  unlightened  by 
frivolity.  Stripped  to  the  waist  for  freedom  in  using  the 
arms,  the  rapid  alternate  rise  and  fall  of  the  long  wooden 
pestle  means  hard  work  for  the  young  women.  The 
rough-husking  is  sometimes,  though  not  usually,  done  by 
men  ;  but  the  rice  cleaning  and  pounding  with  the  pestle 
is  almost  invariably  women's  work,  quantities  far  in  ex- 
cess of  domestic  requirements  being  often  prepared  for 
sale.  There  is  a  large  trade  in  half  cleaned  rice  (Londi) 
and  white  rice  (^Sdn)  along  all  lines  of  communication  by 
road  or  river,  the  hand-cleaned  rice  being,  as  an  article  of 
food,  much  preferred  to  the  white  rice  turned  out  by  the 
steam-mills  at  seaports. 

The  fact  that  no  inconsiderable  retail  trade  in  hand- 
cleaned  rice  still  maintains  itself  throughout  the  rural 
tracts,despitethecompetitionof  machinery  andof  improved 
communications,  is  mainly  due  to  the  strong  trading  in- 
stincts with  which  Burmese  women  are  endowed.  As 
regards  petty  trade  of  all  sorts,  they  are  keen  and  eager, 
though,  of  course,  they  have  a  leaning  to  those  branches 
in  which  their  natural  volubility  of  speech  is  likely  to  give 
them  any  advantage.  The  men  are  less  gifted  in  this 
respect,  although  even  with  them  the  trading  instinct  is 
in  some  ways  strangely  apparent.  For  these,  however, 
the  trading  operations  must,  as  a  rule,  be  untrammelled 
by   personal    exertion    entailing   bodily    fatigue.     That 



"  time  is  money  "  is  an  aphorism  which  would  be  com- 
pletely devoid  of  sense  to  the  Burmese  mind,  for  all  the 
hereditary  ideas  and  personal  notions  and  experiences  on 
the  subject  have  never  trended  in  the  direction  of  equat- 
ing or  in  any  way  correlating  these  two  factors.  Another 
consideration  having  great  weight  with  the  male 
Burmese  is  his  love  of  independence,  and  his  dislike 
of  being  tied  down  to  perform  specific  duties  at 
or  within  given  times.  It  is  therefore  by  no  means 
uncommon  to  find  him  engage  in  trading  opera- 
tions which,  measured  by  their  monetary  gains,  some- 
times appear  hardly  worth  the  time  and  trouble  ex- 
pended upon  them.  For  example,  he  will  sift  the  sands 
in  the  beds  of  streams  for  gold-dust,  even  though  this 
does  not  yield  him  half  the  amount  he  could  easily  earn 
by  a  comparatively  light  day's  work  as  a  labourer.  But 
then  he  would  not  be  his  own  master,  and  that  makes  all 
the  difference  to  him.  While  engaged  in  these  and  vari- 
ous other  operations  with  a  like  object  he  will  often 
undergo  much  personal  inconvenience  and  physical  dis- 
comfort, provided  always  that  it  is  not  combined  with 
really  hard  muscular  exertion.  To  digging,  in  any  shape 
or  form,  the  Burman  has  a  strong  objection,  the  digging 
of  a  well  being  classed  as  one  of  the  most  laborious  of 

There  are  not,  and  there  never  have  been  in  Burma, 
any  guilds  connected  with  trade.  Nor  is  there  any  re- 
striction, either  legal  or  social,  requiring  given  classes  or 
individuals  to  pursue  certain  callings,  trades,  or  profes- 
sions. There  is  absolute  free  will  and  free  trade  in  this 
respect,  although  heredity  and  custom  exert  strong  power 
in  the  matter.  In  all  Burmese  towns  there  were  specific 
streets  or  quarters  in  which  handicraftsmen  following, 
almost  invariably  hereditarily,  one  branch  of  trade  were 
located  ;  and  even  in  the  anglicized  municipal  towns  this 
is  still  traceable  in  streets  whose  names,  when  translated, 
mean  "potters'  quarter,"  "blacksmiths'  row,"  "carpen- 
ters' row,"  and  the  like.  In  similar  manner  there  is 
•'  China  Street"  and  a  "  Shan  quarter,"  wherever  traders 
of  these  nationalities  carry  on  their  avocations  in  or  near 
the  chief  towns. 



One  of  the  great  minor  industries  followed  throughout 
the  whole  province  is  weaving.  This  is  carried  on  entirely 
by  the  women-folk,  and  forms  more  particularly  the  work  of 
the  girls  of  the  household.  Seated  at  the  loom  under  the 
house,  there  is  good  opportunity  for  looking  around  and 
gossiping  with  any  passer-by,  whilst  lightly  throwing  the 
shuttle  across  the  warp  by  hand  and  plying  the  treadle 
by  foot  to  cross  the  strands  and  fix  the  thread  of  the 
woof.  It  is  an  occupation  of  the  day  time,  after  the  rice 
has  been  husked  and  the  morning  meal  has  been  pre- 
pared and  partaken  of. 

Under  Burmese  rule  every  household  had  its  own 
loom,  for  nearly  all  articles  of  clothing  were  practically 
home-made,  and  the  loom  was  the  absolute  and  inalien- 
able property  of  the  wife.  The  Laws  of  Manu  even  laid 
down  that  if  a  woman  unreasonably  insisted  on  separating 
from  her  husband  without  having  any  just  cause  of  com- 
plaint against  him,  she  was  still  entitled  to  take  away,  as 
her  personal  effects,  a  skirt,  shawl,  jacket,  and  loin-scarf 
as  clothing,  together  with  cloth  woven  and  rolled  up  on 
the  loom,  the  loom  itself,  the  shuttles,  and  other  imple- 
ments belonging  to  it.  The  loom  is  a  very  simple 
wooden  framework,  of  comparatively  slight  monetary 
value.  Flowers  and  petty  offerings  to  the  spirits  are 
often  hung  on  it  in  order  to  speed  the  shuttle. 

The  introduction  of  cheap  cotton  and  silk  fabrics  has 
dealt  a  blow  to  hand-weaving  from  which  it  can  never 
recover,  and  weaving  is  no  longer  so  profitable  as  it  once 
was.  It  still  may,  however,  be  ranked  as  one  of  the 
chief  occupations  of  women  in  the  rural  tracts.  Both  silk 
and  cotton  cloths  are,  though  coarser  in  texture,  more 
durable  when  home-made  ;  and  the  mother  engaged  in 
housework  knows  her  daughter  cannot  be  up  to  much 
mischief  while  the  monotonous  click-clack  of  the  loom  is 
heard  without  interruption  from  below  the  house.  As  a 
means  of  livelihood  weaving  now  brings  in  but  a  mere 
pittance,  so  that  it  is  still  followed  far  more  as  a  means  of 
occupying  spare  time  than  for  any  actual  profit  derivable 
from  it. 

Although  silkworm  breeding  and  cotton  production 
form  occupations  among  the  Yabein  class  of  the  Burmese 



peasantry,  yet  raw  silk  and  cotton  yarn  are  largely  im- 
ported for  weaving.  Thus,  in  1S98-99,  the  imports  of 
raw  silk  amounted  in  value  to  £i2T,,gio,  in  addition  to 
;^268,677  worth  of  pure  and  mixed  silk  piece-goods, 
while  cotton  twist  and  yarn  was  imported  to  ^298,019 
in  value,  besides  nearly  ^740,672  worth  of  cotton  piece- 
goods,  and  woollen  goods  to  the  extent  of  ^247,728  in 
value.  And  under  some  of  these  headings  the  imports 
had  been  larger  in  the  previous  year. 

The  best  silk- weavers  are  to  be  found  at  Amarapura, 
near  Mandalay.  There  large  numbers  of  people  follow 
this  occupation  as  their  sole  means  of  livelihood,  whereas 
silk  and  cotton  weaving  throughout  the  province  generally 
is  carried  on  mostly  by  girls  and  women  whilst  unoccu- 
pied by  other  domestic  duties.  Rich,  heavy,  brocade- 
like silks  are  produced  by  Manipuris  who  have  settled  in 
the  Henzada  district  of  Lower  Burma.  Since  the  down- 
fall of  the  Court  of  Ava  the  trade  in  high-class  silks  has 
been  in  rather  a  depressed  condition.  Made  to  order, 
strong  and  very  beautiful  shot  silks,  consisting  of  warps 
of  red,  green,  or  yellow  woofed  with  lighter  tints,  or  with 
white,  cost  about  sixteen  rupees  (^i  i^.  4^'.)  per  piece 
measuring  eight  yards  long  and  twenty-two  inches  broad. 
Silks  woven  in  blue  are  not  common,  for  they  contrast 
badly  with  the  dark  olive  Burmese  complexion  ;  while 
certain  definite  mixtures,  like  light  green  and  dark  green, 
are  never  made  on  account  of  being  unlucky.  Pink,  and 
especially  rose-pink,  is  the  predominating  colour  in  silk 
manufactures,  and  next  to  it  comes  yellow. 

It  is  seldom,  however,  that  only  a  single  shuttle  is 
used,  as  in  the  case  of  shot  silks  made  to  order  for 
European  tastes.  To  suit  the  native  idea,  fond  of  bright- 
ness and  variety,  the  pieces  woven  arc  usually  bright  with 
patterns  of  gay  colours  forming  tartan-like  checks  or  wavy 
zig-zaglinesof  variouscoloursand  shades.  Someof  the  Lou 
Paso  or  short  wavy-lined  waistcloths  worn  by  men,  though 
only  about  fifteen  feet  long  and  two  cubits  in  breadth, 
cost  anything  up  to  two  or  three  hundred  rupees  {/^i^i 
to  ^20)  according  to  the  intricacy  of  the  pattern  and  the 
number  of  shuttles  (Lon)  used  in  making  them.  But  the 
woman's  waistcloth  {Tamein\  a  single  piece  composed  of 



a  narrow  upper  part,  a  broader  lower  portion,  and  a  border 
of  different  patterns,  measuring  in  all  about  four  and  a  half 
feet  long  by  a  little  over  five  in  breadth,  lends  itself  even 
more  effectively  to  elaboration  of  wavy-lined  patterns  and 
deft  shuttlework. 

The  handweaving  of  artistic  silks,  as  most  of  the 
many-shuttled  cloths  unquestionably  are,  is  one  of  the 
first  rural  industries  which  feels  the  ebb  and  flow  of 
agricultural  prosperity.  When  times  are  hard  the  demand 
for  rich  and  costly  waistcloths  for  men  and  women  at  once 
falls  while  the  cheaper  and  usually  gaudier  inferior  import 
silks  hold  the  market.  A  bumper  harvest  in  Lower 
Burma  will,  however,  as  in  1896-97,  bring  back  a  revival 
of  prosperity  for  the  time  being  to  the  looms  of  Amarapura 
and  give  a  fillip  to  home  silk-weaving  throughout  the 

But  fashion  in  women's  dress  is  now  becoming  subject 
to  change  even  in  so  conservative  a  country  as  Burma. 
There  has  been  a  marked  tendency  of  late  years,  especi- 
ally in  Lower  Burma  and  more  particularly  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  seaport  towns,  towards  the  adoption  of  uniform 
colours  such  as  maroon,  brown,  olive,  and  dark  green  for 
women's  skirts  or  waistcloths,  in  place  of  the  bright 
variegated  Loit  Tamein  of  stiff,  heavy  texture.  Though 
neat  and  not  unpleasing  in  effect,  this  change  in  fashion 
as  regards  the  national  costume  for  women  seems  only 
one  of  the  many  indications  everywhere  noticeable  of  the 
gradual  decay  of  art-feeling  which  appears  to  be  the 
inevitable  outcome  of  contact  with  western  civilization. 

A  curious  custom  obtains  among  the  Kachin  hill 
tribes  with  regard  to  weaving  the  narrow  dark  blue 
cotton  cloths  which  constitute  one  of  their  principal 
articles  of  dress.  The  women  sit  on  the  ground  with 
their  legs  fully  extended,  the  threads  of  the  warp  being 
fixed  to  a  piece  of  bamboo  held  in  position  by  their 
toes,  while  the  other  end  is  passed  round  their  waists. 
The  body  itself  thus  forms  the  loom,  the  shuttles  being 
plied  by  the  hands  across  the  warp  extended  between 
the  loins  and  the  feet. 

The  decline  of  hand-weaving  has  naturally  led  to  cur- 
tailment in  the  preparation  and  use  of  dye  stuffs  which 



abound  throughout  the  province.  The  rural  agricultural 
population  still  use  barks  and  other  simple  forest  products 
for  dyeing  their  cotton  of  home  growth,  but  to  a  certain 
extent  the  native  vegetable  dyes  have  been  displaced  by 
gaudy  aniline  dyes,  the  imports  of  chemical  products  and 
dye  stuffs  amounting  to  ^^30,404  in  value  during  1899- 
1900.  Formerly,  for  the  weaving  of  finer  cloths,  the  raw 
floss-silk  was  bought  locally,  wound  off,  twisted  into 
thread,  boiled  in  soap  and  water,  then  dyed  and  reeled  off 
again  for  use ;  but  now  the  silk  yarns  imported  are 
coloured  and  ready  for  immediate  use  on  the  loom. 

The  principal  colours  used  in  dyeing  are  red,  yellow, 
and  green  of  different  shades,  orange,  and    pale    blue, 
while  light  blue,  dark  blue,  brown,  and  black  are  also  in 
use  among  the  forest  tribes  and  the  Shans.     White  silk  is 
largely  used  both  in  the  piece  for  jackets,  and  for  variety 
in  check  and  other  patterns.     I  f  white  thread  is  wanted,  the 
thread  is  boiled  in  a  lye  of  soap  and  water,  or  of  earth 
containing  potash,  and  then  beaten  clean  on  a  slab  of 
smooth  wood  or  a  flat  stone.     For  red,   the  thread  is 
dipped  into  boiling  water  in  which  powdered  stick-lac  has 
been  thrown,  or  seeds  of  the  tamarind  tree,  or  chips  of 
the  wood  of  the  Thitsi  or  black  varnish  tree  {Melanorrhoea 
usitata).     For  yellow  and  orange,  saffron  (turmeric)  and 
the  wood  of  the  Jack-tree  {Artocarpus  integrifolia)  are 
largely  used,  the  latter  being  exclusively  employed  for 
dyeing  the  robes  of  the  monks  or  religious.     A  soft  and 
very  beautiful   shade  of  reddish  orange  is  obtained  by 
rubbing  the  seeds  of  the  Thidin  or  Panbin  i^Bixa  orellana) 
between  the  palms  of  the  hand  in  cold  water  and  then 
boiling  it.     This  shrub  used  to  be  largely  grown  around 
houses  for  this  specific  purpose.     Green  is  obtained  by 
boiling  yarn,  already  dyed  yellow,  in  a  decoction  of  the 
leaves   and    twigs   of    the   Men  we    creeper  i^Marsdenia 
tinctorid).     Blues  are  obtained   from   wild    indigo    and 
similar  plants,  and  black  from  decoctions  of  the  berry  of 
Diospyros  mollis  (Shan  black),  the  drupes  of  Terminalia 
chebula,  and  other  trees.     When  necessary  for  fixing  the 
dyes,  the  chief  mordants  are  alum,  lime  juice,  tamarinds, 
and    barks    of    trees    or    shrubs,   including    species    of 
Terminalia,  Eugenia,  Kaiidelia.     The  printing  of  patterns 



on  cotton,  so  common  in  Upper  India,  is  almost  unknown 
in  Burma,  and  the  cotton  pieces  woven  are  all  thicker  than 
what  is  known  as  the  muslin  type. 

The  forest  wealth  of  Burma  includes  vast  quantities  of 
dye-stuffs  and  tanning  materials,  which  are  at  present 
waste  products  of  the  woodlands  without  marketable 
value.  Of  other  waste  products  one  may  perhaps  be  de- 
serving of  notice,  as  it  is  obtainable  free  of  cost  in  con- 
siderable quantities  at  the  sea-ports  of  Moulmein,  Tavoy, 
and  Mergui.  This  is  the  large,  thick  fibrous  skin  enclos- 
ing the  dainty  succulent  seeds  of  the  Mangosteen  (Gar- 
cinia  maitgostand).  Enormous  quantities  of  these  husks 
are  thrown  away  as  refuse  during  the  spring  of  each  year ; 
and  it  seems  at  any  rate  worth  ascertaining  their  com- 
mercial value  for  tanning  by  having  them  artificially  dried 
and  sent  home  for  chemical  analysis  and  for  experimental 
tests  of  a  practical  nature. 

The  total  number  of  people  engaged  in  the  manufac- 
ture and  conversion  of  textile  fabrics  of  any  description, 
including  clothing,  silk,  cotton,  flax,  coir,  etc.,  amounts 
(according  to  the  last  census  figures  available)  only  to 
about  375,000,  or  rather  less  than  one-twentieth  of  the 
population ;  and  nearly  three-fourths  of  those  thus 
employed  are  of  the  female  sex.  The  fact  that,  despite 
its  far  lower  total  population,  about  twice  as  many  are 
classifiable  in  this  category  throughout  Upper  Burma  as 
are  to  be  found  in  Lower  Burma,  gives  some  idea  of  how 
much  more  rapidly  as  compared  with  the  tracts  far  inland 
the  people  in  the  delta  are  abandoning  what  once  ranked 
next  to  agriculture  as  the  chief  rural  industry  in  the 
country,  and  are  now  supplying  their  requirements  with 
the  produce  of  the  steam-power  looms  of  Europe  and 
Japan.  From  this  movement,  onward  in  a  commercial 
sensebut  downwardasto  artistic  effect  andaesthetic  feeling, 
there  can  be  no  retrogression  ;  for  the  time  must  gradu- 
ally come  when  the  plying  of  this  ancient  handicraft  will 
be  a  thing  of  the  past,  and  the  click  of  the  weaver's 
hand-loom  will  only  be  heard  in  lonely  hamlets  amid  the 
recesses  of  the  jungle. 

The  manufacture  of  pottery  forms  another  rural  in- 
dustry, which,  though  only  giving  employment  to  some 



forty  thousand  people,  or  less  than  one-half  per  cent,  of 
the  population,  is  very  widely  carried  on.  The  women 
employed  in  this  trade  also  outnumber  the  men  following 
it,  although  not  to  any  overwhelming  extent.  As  might 
be  expected  from  the  nature  of  the  articles  manufactured, 
the  bulk  of  which  are  thin  pots  or  jars  for  holding  water, 
cooking  rice,  and  so  forth,  potters  are  to  be  found  distri- 
buted over  the  whole  of  the  plains  of  Burma,  though 
most  numerous,  of  course,  in  the  more  thickly  populated 
tracts  of  the  delta.  In  Upper  Burma,  Sagaing  and 
Shwebo  are  the  chief  seats  of  the  industry,  while  in 
Lower  Burma,  Bassein,  at  the  western  limit  of  the  delta, 
has  attained  the  highest  position  in  this  branch,  and  pro- 
duces large  numbers  of  terra-cotta  articles  which  may  be 
classified  as  art  pottery.  These  latter  productions  may, 
however,  more  appropriately  be  referred  to  along  with 
wood-carving,  lacquered  articles,  brass  ware,  and  silver 
work  in  the  chapter  dealing  with  art  and  art- work.  The 
manufacture  of  porcelain  is  unknown,  only  earthenware 
being  made. 

The  pottery  manufactured  for  general  use  varies,  of 
course,  according  to  the  specific  purpose  to  which  it  is  to  be 
put.  The  chatties  or  pots  for  carrying  water  and  boiling 
rice  are  only  about  one-sixth  of  an  inch  in  thickness  be- 
low, though  thicker  and  stronger  towards  the  grooved 
neck  and  wide  open  mouth.  Consequently  they  are 
rather  brittle,  and  become  very  much  so  after  long  usage. 
The  clay  used  is  carefully  selected,  and  a  little  fine  clean 
sand  is  added  to  strengthen  the  puddle.  Similar  pots  for 
boiling  brine  and  S/ia-chips  in  the  manufacture  of  salt  and 
cutch  are  much  thicker  and  contain  a  greater  proportion 
of  sand.  Still  larger  vessels  of  the  ordinary  jar  shape  are 
made  for  holding  crude  earth-oil  and  similar  substances 
while  in  transit,  and  these  are  usually  glazed  with  a  mix- 
ture of  rice-water  and  galena.  Some  of  these,  known  as 
"  Pegu  jars,"  have  a  capacity  up  to  over  a  hundred  and 
fifty  gallons. 

The  puddled  clay  being  placed  on  the  potter's  wheel, 
this  is  turned  rapidly  by  a  pedal  while  the  pot  is  fashioned 
by  hand.  After  being  sun-dried,  the  pots  are  built  up, 
mouth  downwards,  in  the  form  of  a  cottage- shaped  kiln 

353  A  A 


covered  in  with  bricks  and  mud,  the  kilns  usually  being 
about  twenty  feet  or  more  in  length  by  about  twelve 
feet  in  breadth  and  ten  feet  high  along  the  central  line. 
During  the  process  of  firing  large  numbers  of  pots  get 
cracked  or  broken  owing  to  their  thinness  and  fragility. 

Fisheries  and  fish-curing,  both  along  the  sea-coast  and 
in  inland  tracts,  afford  employment  to  over  sixty  thousand 
adult  males,  and  yield  the  means  of  livelihood  to  about 
one  hundred  and  seventy  thousand  souls,  or  considerably 
over  two  per  cent,  of  the  total  population  ;  while  rents 
for  fishery  leases  and  licences  for  fishing  bring  in  a 
revenue  exceeding  ;^  150,000  a  year.  As  salted  fish 
forms,  along  with  boiled  rice,  one  of  the  chief  articles  of 
food  among  the  Burmese,  this  rural  industry  continues 
to  flourish  and  to  yield  a  steadily  increasing  revenue 
even  although  the  rapid  spread  of  cultivation,  the  pro- 
tection of  low  lands  by  embankments,  and  the  drainage 
of  water-logged  swamps  tend  to  very  materially  reduce 
the  area  of  the  tracts  worked  as  closed  fisheries  {In). 
The  reduction  in  the  area  of  the  swamps  is  leading  to 
improved  methods  of  working  the  fisheries  ;  and  as  the 
price  of  salted  fish  is  gradually  rising  with  the  prosperity 
and  purchasing  power  of  the  population  generally,  this 
industry  is  on  a  very  sound  basis.  As  might  of  course 
be  expected,  the  extent  and  value  of  the  fishing  industry 
is  much  greater  throughout  the  delta  and  along  the  sea- 
coast  of  Lower  Burma  than  in  the  inland  tracts  of  Upper 
Burma.  The  chief  seat  of  the  industry  is  in  the 
Thongwa  and  Bassein  districts,  where  the  income  from 
the  leased  fisheries  on  individual  streams  and  their 
tributaries  sometimes  amounts  to  between  six  and  seven 
thousand  pounds  a  year. 

A  Fishery  Act  in  Lower  Burma  and  a  corresponding 
Regulation  for  Upper  Burma  regulate  the  sale  of  fisheries 
and  the  license  of  nets  and  traps.  Net  fisheries,  v/orked 
by  license-holders  in  the  principal  rivers  and  along  the 
sea-shore,  are  not  nearly  so  valuable  or  so  profitable  as 
the  closed  fisheries  (In),  which  are  from  time  to  time 
sold  by  auction  for  fixed  periods  of  years.  Fishery  and 
fish-salting  can  only  be  carried  on  during  the  dry  season 
of  the  year.     For  sea-fishery  a  funnel-shaped  bamboo 



trap  {Dajnin)  secured  by  a  rattan  rope  to  a  stake  fixed 
in  the  mud,  is  chiefly  used  ;  while  for  inland  river 
and  lake  fisheries  weirs  [S^)  are  formed,  thin  bamboo 
screens  ( Vin)  being  extended  from  side  to  side  to  keep 
back  the  fish  while  allowing  the  water  to  pass  through. 
About  September,  towards  the  end  of  the  rainy  season, 
whilst  the  low-lying  tracts  of  country  are  still  swamped 
with  water,  the  Inthugyi  or  lessee  of  an  inland  fishery 
erects  a  strong  weir  across  the  main  stream  of  the  fishery 
near  its  lower  end  in  the  case  of  a  stream,  or  near  its 
outlet  if  a  lake.  This  weir  usually  consists  of  strong 
posts,  firmly  fixed  in  the  mud  and  held  in  position  by 
stout  struts,  to  which  longitudinal  poles  are  lashed. 
Aofainst  this  solid  framework  the  loose  screens  made 
with  narrow  strips  of  split  bamboo,  woven  together  with 
stout  twisted  cord,  are  lashed  tightly  so  as  to  withstand 
the  pressure  of  the  current.  The  lower  portions  of 
the  screens  rest  on  the  bottom  of  the  creek  or  lake, 
while  the  upper  part  rises  about  three  or  four  feet  above 
the  water-level  in  order  to  prevent  the  large  fish  jumping 
over  and  escaping.  Towards  the  centre  of  the  weir  a 
long  projecting  trap,  with  a  sloping  floor  of  split  bamboo, 
is  fixed  about  the  water-level,  and  as  this  forms  the  only 
exit  downwards  from  the  waters  above,  the  fish  are  here 
easily  caught  and  taken  ashore.  In  some  cases,  how- 
ever, the  weirs  erected  across  the  beds  of  streams  consist 
of  solid  earthwork  thrown  in  between  retaining  walls 
formed  of  stout  posts  and  bamboo  wickerwork. 

These  weirs  and  screens  are  kept  in  position  till 
nearly  all  the  water  has  drained  of